Tension headache, or migraine?

Hello again :slight_smile: So I’ve always thought I was suffering tension headaches predominantly, with migraines comorbidly. Now I’m skeptical that my “tension headaches” are really migraines in a different shape. I’ve researched the difference between the two, and it seems like some symptoms fit one condition, where others fit the 2nd condition. I’m hoping I can get opinions on whether these are really migraines in sheep’s clothing!

I have a horrible throbbing and pressure feeling in my entire head constantly. My scalp muscles are all tense and sensitive (even brushing or washing my hair can hurt). Any pressure on my head (laying, resting an arm on it, etc) causes a worsened throb and worsening pain. Anything causing pull (hair tie, hair clip) also causes a worsened throb and then worsened pain. Bending down will also worsen, as well as physical activity (cleaning, walking). More strenuous activity will TRIGGER one (running, jogging, jumping). Fluorescent lights trigger them almost immediately, and same goes for desktop pc monitors (although laptops seem to be okay). This comes along with vertigo, nausea, and disorientation.

The pain itself feels like my head is being squeezed by a vice, covers normally my entire head (vs one side), and sometimes seems to be worsened by light and sound, but not always (except fluorescent lighting, that ALWAYS worsens and triggers them).

“Vice-type pain in entire head” sounds like tension headache… but all the other symptoms match with migraine. I should mention that I have also had mild vertigo with these “headaches” without having fluorescent exposure (not frequently, but consistently). I also experience flares lasting anywhere from 3-6 days on average.

Are these tension headaches caused by the migraine (like as a symptom of it), or actually the migraine itself and just in a different form?

Other times, what I’ve considered a true migraine up until now, is a one-sided horrendous pain like I was hit with a sledgehammer on that side of my head. It’s worsened by any light and sound. I become bed-ridden in a dark, quiet room and attempt to sleep in order to fight it off.

So, what do you think? Is it possible to have 2 different “styles” of migraine? Do you think my “tension headaches” are actually migraines??

From what you describe it sounds like migraine. In fact, Dr Silver who I saw recently and is a migraine expert says that tension headaches are migraines. Listen to his audio on migraine and see what you think x

migraine, no question about it. period.

Hi Candi,

If your “tension headaches” are accompanied by light sensitivity and/ or sound sensitivity then they are most definitely migraine related headaches. But even if you don’t have that, they are likely still migraine-based. I experience almost all of my headaches as bilateral “tension” headaches and not always with light/ sound sensitivity. They are migraine headaches. Like you I thought I was a neck tension person 10 years ago and couldn’t figure out why I was always having neck pain despite not necessarily sitting on a computer that much. I know now it was all kicked off by food triggers etc.

Get that migraine under control and the “tension” will vanish.


Thanks everyone, I think you’re all right and these are migraines. I’m even more convinced today, day 4 of “headache” and 2nd day vertigo has hit. I haven’t been exposed to any fluorescents to cause the vertigo, so it’s definitely not that. And the vertigo has hit mid-late day both times, well after the “headache” was already there… so the dr’s theory that my vertigo triggers the tension headaches triggers the migraines doesn’t fit :stuck_out_tongue: Plus, I have obvious known triggers right now that i’m sure is causing this. So yes, I’m definitely thinking migraine. Thanks again!!

— Begin quote from "Jem"

From what you describe it sounds like migraine. In fact, Dr Silver who I saw recently and is a migraine expert says that tension headaches are migraines. Listen to his audio on migraine and see what you think x

— End quote

This is super interesting, thanks for sharing it!!! I love how they all say it “me-graine” :wink:

I just wanted you all to know that you ROCK! You were dead on! I saw the neuro today and he said I’m definitely having chronic migraine, and the “chronic tension headaches” are migraine. Basically my migraine is never going away, so moderate" they’re presenting as a tension type headache, but its the migraine.

Good job guys :smiley:

Cool stuff Canikane – glad the specialist was on the same page as you are. Now onto getting it sorted.