"Migraine" vs Tension vs Treatments

I seem to have a multiple choice of headaches. Sometimes (when I eat a ‘trigger’ food) there’s a red-hot spike in my temple or above one eye or through the top of my head. It’s horrible, but it has a starting point & does fade eventually - usually the same day. The other headaches that I often wake up with start at the base of my skull & tend to get worse throughout the day, often lasting for days without letting up. Maybe those are tension headaches & not migraine at all. On the other hand, if they’re tension headaches, why would I be more sensitive to light & noise during them?

I’m well acquainted with the headaches that causes me to vomit - the light & noise sensitivity, slurred speech, etc. That’s what I thought was a “classic” migraine-type headache. But the day-long headaches that make me want to rotate my head & rub my neck … maybe those are tension headaches. If that’s the case, maybe I’d benefit from some type of muscle relaxer or massage therapy instead of all these beta blockers & etc. drugs. On the other hand, when I take just a couple good old fashioned Tylenols or an Advil, the pain’s still there & I get dizzy along with it.

Opinions? Am I having different types of headaches or does it all fall under the definition of Migraine?

And it sounds like a lot of us have this pain that starts at the base of our skulls. What’s up with that? Is there a technical reason?

Joy,

I’m not a doctor, but from what I have read, your “tension” headaches are most likely just another manifestation of migraine. I believe it was in Heal Your Headache by Dr. David Buchholz that I read most tension headaches are actually migraine. The fact that you have light and sound sensitivity at the same time further indicates migraine. I too suffer from what I used to think were tension headaches, but I now believe they are migraine associated. This migraine stuff is crazy!

Marci

yea, Buccholz is pretty “migraine” focused. In Chap 6 he says that "the mechanism of migraine generates virtually all headaches (the main exception being cluster)…

That’s how he starts the chapter. He goes into more detail in explanation.

Julie

Oh God, more base of skull.
I’d like to rip the base of my skull and whole neck off.

Heather

The neuro who dx’d me with MAV told me that most headaches are migraine varients. She classified me as having chronic daily headaches, tension headaches, and vestibular headaches, with a possible mild ‘clasic migraine.’

The thing is that the medical field has just recently taken migraines into serious study, so this is a fairly new concept. A lot of doctors have not heard what my neuro told me, and the some of the ones that have don’t agree with it. And even more dificult for us is that the doctors who have a better understanding of migraines, not all of them agree on the same treatment. So it is not surprising to hear different info and opinions.

They are getting educated, at least by drug reps. A doctor friend of mine recently told me that drug reps are handing out posters regarding sinusitis headaches actually being migraine.

Hi Joy,

I think they’re all the same – all stemming from the same migraine process. Here’s a piece from an article where they identify dizziness occurring in people with tension-typ headache as well:

Best … Scott 8)

Hey Brian,

What is the main difference between a Headache and a Tension Headache? If someone like myself feels a throbbing w/ Tension in his/her head w/ no pain…would that be defined as having a Tension headache? I don’t feel any pain per se…just tension. Anotherwards…inside my head does not feel Relaxed. If i could get my head to feel 100% relaxed…that would be more than half the battle. The Verapamil is helping to some degree with the tension but definitely no cure…so far. Sometimes my head feels like a semi-Squeezed washrag. :frowning:

Joe

TTH Tension-type headaches are definitelty painful.
I have the Atlantic Ocean in my head these days.

Heather

My most common ‘complaint’ / description is that I have a bowling ball balanced on my golf-tee neck.

I don’t think this Atenolol is doing anything at all. It’s been almost a month & I still feel lousy. Too soon to tell?

I did find out something sort of interesting - to me at least: On Saturday my husb & I went to some subdivision garage sales. I woke up with a blistering headache, but the pain eased up while I was walking around outside in the cool air (~60 deg at first) only to start up again after I got back in the car. I know people have said exercise helps them, but I’d just like to understand why! Why did I feel better walking around instead of riding in the car?? Any opinions? I’m starting to think this has something to do with posture … I sit all day / all week in front of this computer at work, and that’s usually (though not always) when I have the worst headaches.

There’s a guy on another forum who’s very much convinced that NUCCA chiropractic treatment is ‘the way to go’ for relief, if not complete cure of … well, lots of things. Have any of you tried chiropractic? (Can you hear the desperation in my question?)

Hi Joy .
A good friend of the family is a teacher of chiro.
I went to him for 6 months, he promised me the world and nothing happened.
I’ve heard some good news about massage for migraine, but nothing positive about Chiro, personally speaking.
then again, everyone is different, as we hear every day on this forum.
What doesn’t work for someone will for another?

jen.

— Begin quote from “joy”

I woke up with a blistering headache, but the pain eased up while I was walking around outside in the cool air (~60 deg at first) only to start up again after I got back in the car. I know people have said exercise helps them, but I’d just like to understand why! Why did I feel better walking around instead of riding in the car?? Any opinions? I’m starting to think this has something to do with posture … I sit all day / all week in front of this computer at work, and that’s usually (though not always) when I have the worst headaches.

— End quote

Brain blood-flow?
Also, the computer is taken in visually.
The brain gets 70% of its info from the eyes.
One of the theories about migrainous issues is abnormal sensitivity to sensory input. (I buy that)

For the record, I get back of the head pain when I drive but the drive is usually longer than just going to the grocery store.
(But then when I go into the grocery store, I can get head pain there. A no-win scenario.)

I stay away from Chiros and their “adjustments” since any incorrect manipulation of the neck could create a vertiginous situation.

Heather

— Begin quote from “joseph0952”

Hey Brian,

What is the main difference between a Headache and a Tension Headache? If someone like myself feels a throbbing w/ Tension in his/her head w/ no pain…would that be defined as having a Tension headache? I don’t feel any pain per se…just tension. Anotherwards…inside my head does not feel Relaxed. If i could get my head to feel 100% relaxed…that would be more than half the battle. The Verapamil is helping to some degree with the tension but definitely no cure…so far. Sometimes my head feels like a semi-Squeezed washrag. :frowning:

Joe

— End quote

Simple discription of a tension headache, put your head in a vise a keep tightening it until it hurts, then crank the vise even tighter. Another way to describe them is to wrap a steel band around your head and tighten it, again until it hurts, then tighten it some more.

For me the “usually” start in the back of the neck, and wrap themselves around. If I can catch it quick enough, I can usually get them to stop with some Aleve.

the semi-squeezed wash-rag - i get that feeling