What Type of Headache Do You Have?

If you’ve suffered from headaches for any length of time, you’ll be more than aware that there are different types which can affect people in different ways – but if you’re only just beginning to research the topic, you may be surprised to know that there are, in fact, many different kinds of headache, each of which has it’s own typical features.



Headaches are experienced a little bit differently by everyone -the obvious and common symptom is pain in the head, which could be sharp, dull, constant or fleeting. Along with this, many report feeling tired or drained, or come to the clinic explaining that they’re dealing with some blurred vision. Others suffer from a chronically stiff neck which never seems to go away or find themselves feeling off balance or dizzy.

While every headache is unique, they can be broadly categorised into common types – this helps specialists like chiropractors understand what the most likely cause is, as well as what the best course of treatment could be. Therefore, knowing which kind of headache you have is the first step toward finding relief.


Most Common Types of Headaches


Migraines come in all shapes and sizes. Typically you’ll feel a throbbing on one side of your head. We’ve written many articles on Migraines, which themselves can be broken up into categories.

Migraine is a particularly disruptive type of headache, which can be excruciating and can last up to 3 days. Migraine sufferers report feeling nauseous and may be sensitive to light, sound, or smell while the migraine is ongoing.

The true cause of migraine is still unknown, however, research has suggested that they may be related to the release of inflammatory substances in the head. Hormones are also thought to play a role, which may explain why are twice as common in women as they are in men. While children can suffer from migraine, it’s less common and migraines often tend to pass quicker in children.


Tension Headache

Tension types of headaches are very common and affect up to 20% of the population.

Tension headaches usually consist of constant dull pain on both sides of the head – you might also feel like you’re carrying a heavy weight around your neck. The cause of tension headache is, as you might guess, tense or contracted neck and scalp muscles. While longer episodes can and do occur, tension headaches tend to be shorter in duration than migraine, very often lasting a few hours. [1]

Tension headaches are a function of muscular strain – poor posture is a frequent underlying cause, whereas stress, anxiety, and depression are a few common factors which can trigger or worsen a tension headache. You could also experience these types of headaches as the result of factors which stress the body – for example, dehydration, loud noises, a lack of sleep, or even not getting enough exercise.

The key thing to remember when it comes to tension headaches is their cause – tense and stressed muscles. While the common triggers for tension headache might be difficult to avoid in our day-to-day lives, they’re also easy to prevent and reduce through approaches designed to relax the muscles affected.


Cluster Headache

Whereas migraine is more common in Women cluster types of headaches are usually experienced more by men. As a whole, cluster headaches are less common – it’s through they affect fewer than 1 in 1000 adults and affect six men for every woman. Those experiencing this type of headache generally feel an intense burning or even a piercing feeling behind or around one of their eyes. Those experiencing these types of headaches may have tearing and redness in the eye or, somewhat oddly, a blocked nasal passage on the affected side.[2]

Cluster types of headaches are troublesome because they often seem to have no obvious cause –  and usually seem to come when you least expect them. Cluster headaches tend to be shorter in duration, and typically last anywhere from approximately 15 minutes to 3 hours. While cluster-type headaches are usually shorter, it’s not uncommon for them to occur multiple times in a day, making them especially disruptive.


Chiropractic for Headaches

The good news is that we don’t have to be a victim of headaches – and Chiropractic is just one approach with a strong record of helping treat headaches. Knowing the kind of headache which you’re struggling with can help greatly here, since, as you can imagine, the best approach to resolving tension headaches is usually different from Migraine, and so on.

Now that you have a rough idea of which kind of headache you’re suffering from, look around our blog to learn more – we’ve written in-depth about all three kinds and how we can help!




[1] Tension Headache. MedlinePlus. 2019.

[2] Headache Disorders. WHO. 2016.


Blog by / July 1, 2022 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007