Yikes! I Have a Migraine… or Do I?

Published by Synergy Healthcare on


Headaches are a pain in general but they sometimes can be a sign of some deeper issue. How can you tell if you have a migraine or a simple tension headache? How do you know if you should see a doctor? What can Synergy Healthcare do to help?


Migraine vs. Tension Headache

Generally, migraines are more severe and last longer than tension headaches – but don’t assume that all bad headaches are migraines. Each kind of headache has some specific characteristics that are important to consider.

Migraine Characteristics
  • Sometimes preceded by fatigue, insomnia and/or loss of appetite
  • Starts fast and lasts from a few hours to a couple days
  • Focused on one side of the head in the temples, forehead, or base of the neck
  • Accompanied by light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, and generally being laid up on the couch
  • Vision disruption, weird skin sensations like itching or burning, and speech problems like slurring and skipping words are called an “aura”. The “aura” generally starts soon after the migraine and lasts less than hour. Sometimes the “aura” can last longer but this isn’t common.
Tension Headache Characteristics
  • Generally starts in the neck or back of head and slowly travels forward
  • Can be one or both sided, focused in the sinuses, forehead, temples or cheekbones
  • Associated with irritability, difficulty concentrating


What If It’s a Deeper Issue?

Chronic headaches can be a sign of a deeper health issue or lifestyle habit. Migraines have been linked to some specific food triggers such as white wine, milk chocolate, beer, apple juice or dried apricots. Tension headaches can be brought on by poor posture or trigger points in the neck and shoulders. Other causes of a headache could be hormonal imbalances, head injury, high blood pressure, sinus problems and reactions to medication.

You should call your doctor if you start presenting these symptoms associated with your headache:

  • Rise in temperature.
  • Vomiting.
  • Paranoia, or sense of impending danger.
  • If your headache was triggered by a head injury, coughing, bending over or strenuous activity.
  • You get a sudden horrible headache along with a stiff neck.
  • You have headaches two or three times a week.


What Can Synergy Healthcare Do to Help?

Our staff of highly trained occupational therapists and physical therapists have a unique blend of techniques that can help relieve even severe chronic headaches. Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial Release and Strain Counterstrain have all been extremely effective in treating headaches.

Article written by Abigal, reviewed by Shauna Burchett, OTR/L.