Headaches and migraines affect the daily lives of millions of people all over the world. To understand the difference between headaches and migraines and the ways they can manifest, it’s important to understand the main types of headaches and their causes.
Cervicogenic headaches originate from the neck, often radiating to the temporal or frontal regions of the head. The symptoms are often localized to one side of the head, but may be bilateral, and often the pain worsens over time. They are mainly caused by injury to the cervical spine and compression of the occipital nerves (the peripheral nerves that run up the back of the head and provide sensation to this area).
Migraines are defined as a recurrent headache disorder that manifests in attacks lasting for 4 to 72 hours. They are one of the oldest infirmities known to humankind. Though their cause is largely unknown, they may be triggered by specific foods or weather changes in certain individuals. Migraines cause moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain, often on one side of the head.
In occipital neuralgia, the occipital nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp are injured or inflamed, which causes painful headache symptoms, as well as tenderness or diminished sensation around the area of the nerve. Many of our occipital neuralgia patients report the onset of the condition following a traumatic event, such as a car accident or fall.
Headaches occurring after a history of head and/or neck trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, are classified as post-traumatic headaches. Post-traumatic headaches are considered secondary headaches since they occur as a result of an injury, unlike most migraines, which typically occur without a preceding event.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Headaches
A primary consequence of TMJ dysfunction is jaw pain and headache involving the upper and middle cheek, as well as the side of the head. The source of the pain can be from hyperactivity of the jaw muscles or abnormal contact between bony surfaces (such as arthritis of the bones located within the joint).
This infographic provides details on the various types of headaches.