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  • Writer's pictureAll of Pain

[Pain Management NYC] How To Tell If You Have a Migraine or a Tension Headache

Updated: May 31, 2023

headache pain management NYC

Most health issues can often be overwhelming and confusing. Let's begin today with one of the most common health problems in NYC: headaches. Sometimes, migraine and tension headache symptoms can be similar enough to be hard to tell apart.

If you're not sure which one you're dealing with, there are a few things you can look out for to help you figure it out. By understanding their differences, you can choose the best way to treat your symptoms.

This article will help readers understand the differences between migraine and tension headaches and analyze their pain management NYC treatment options.

Migraine and Tension Headaches

A headache is a pain in the head. It can be incredibly painful, disruptive, and distracting. It can come from either the inside or the outside, and we use different names to describe them.

The most common forms of headaches are tension headaches and migraine. Both migraine and tension headaches are very common in NYC, but they're not exactly the same. In many ways, there are big differences between tension headaches and migraines. For example, migraines last for hours on end, whereas tension headaches last for minutes or hours.

The symptoms of a migraine are different from a tension headache, too, with migraines being more intense. This can make it hard to tell whether you are dealing with a terrible headache or if you have something worse going on.

Migraines and tension headaches have a lot in common. Both migraines and tension headaches are types of headaches that can be very debilitating. Migraines can be debilitating, but they're not dangerous.

Thankfully, there are some simple signs and symptoms to look for that can help you tell the difference between the two. It's important to consult a pain specialist in NYC to rule out serious conditions. For example, you may have migraines or tension headaches if your headache is accompanied by nausea, or vomiting, if one side of your head hurts more than the other, or if you get a headache only when you bend over or touch your head.

woman having headache

Migraines are often misunderstood by people without them, and one of the cardinal symptoms is often overlooked by those who have never experienced a severe one. One of the symptoms of a migraine is an intense sensitivity to light—but when you have a migraine, it's not just the light that's bothering you. In fact, it can be hard to notice because when your head is pounding, the light is probably not the thing on your mind. The other symptoms of a migraine (headache, nausea, sensitivity to noise) are more intense than most people experience with a tension headache.

Tension headaches, on the other hand, are usually less intense than migraines but can still interfere with your ability to function. But when you're dealing with painful pounding headaches and all the fuzzy feelings that come with them, you want to know if your pain is coming from a migraine or a tension headache.

Tension headaches are sometimes called stress headaches or headaches attributed to muscle contraction. While there's still some debate about what causes them, it's generally believed that they're caused by tight muscles in the neck and shoulders.

Tension headaches are more common among women than men and among people who abuse alcohol and tobacco products than those who don't. And while some people may be genetically predisposed to getting them, stress is thought to be a major contributing factor because they're so closely linked with tense muscles in the neck and jaw areas. It often includes feeling like something is squeezing your head, and migraines often cause throbbing pain in the head. Still, if your headache happens after an unusually stressful situation or period of time, it might be a tension headache.

The best way to tell the difference is to talk with a pain doctor, who will do tests and ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, and family history. They'll also want to know any medications you take regularly and any recent changes in your diet or exercise routine. [Common Headache Problems & How To Manage Them]

Location of Pain

Migraines and tension headaches are both debilitating pain conditions that can make it difficult to get through the day. But there are some key differences between the two, which can help you figure out what's causing your headache and how to treat it.

headache pain relief nyc

Migraines are often confused with tension headaches, but the difference between a migraine and a tension headache is in the location of the pain. Migraine pain often affects one side of your head. The pain may be accompanied by an unpleasant feeling in the affected area, known as a "migraine aura," which can include seeing spots or lights, numbness, tingling, and other sensory disturbances.

The main symptom of a migraine is throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of your head. In addition to headaches, symptoms may include sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue. Migraines usually last for about four hours but may continue for up to 72 hours in some cases. Chronic headaches are usually the result of a combination of factors that include genetics, stress, aging, and lifestyle. If you have chronic headaches, consult a pain management specialist.

Tension headaches are more common than migraines and are more likely to affect both sides of your head at once. Tension headaches are more likely to be steady and dull and are described as a tight band around the head that gets worse when you move your neck or tilt your head back. Tension headaches usually affect only one part of the head at a time but may also involve more than one part at once (multifocal). They can be triggered by stress and physical activity such as exercise or bending over for extended periods of time.

Triggers and Duration

If you have a headache and are unsure what type it is, the first thing to do is to figure out how long it has been going on. A tension headache can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days, while migraine pain can continue for hours or even days at a time. You may be able to tell if your headache is a migraine or tension headache based on what you did or what happened right before it began.

A migraine is caused by a complex set of factors, but it usually has to do with changes in neurotransmitters in your brain and your nervous system that affect blood vessels. Migraines are usually triggered by something other than stress, such as hunger or skipping meals, lack of sleep, bright lights, or loud sounds.

Migraines may be triggered by anxiety as well as certain foods, especially those containing caffeine or monosodium glutamate (MSG). It happens when you have one that certain stimuli send signals to your brain that cause pain and other symptoms. Migraines tend to come on suddenly, while tension headaches often start gradually. If you have a sudden onset of pain in one side of your head that increases over time, you may be experiencing a migraine, but it can be prevented with proper pain management treatment.

On the other hand, tension headaches are also caused by something going wrong in your nervous system, but they're not as severe as migraines and don't have the same triggers or symptoms. Tension headaches tend to be caused by muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders, which can cause pain anywhere from the back of the head to the forehead. Tension headaches tend to come on gradually and then get worse as time goes by — unlike migraines which usually strike suddenly with pain.

headache triggers

Here are examples of what triggers your tension headaches:

  • If you were reading, sitting in front of the computer, or watching television, you might have a tension headache.

  • If you are experiencing a sharp pain at the back of your head that is not related to movement and is not relieved by rest or sleep, this could be an indication of a tension headache.

  • If your headaches occur only after a stressful event or get worse when you're stressed, they may be tension headaches.

  • If the pain is usually made worse by routine physical activity, such as bending over or coughing, which can cause your neck muscles to tense up.

Pain Management NYC Treatment

If you have a headache, you probably want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Migraines and tension headaches are both painful but have different symptoms and causes. They share some good characteristics; however, the two have important distinguishing features.

Prevention is the best medicine for headaches.

The most effective way to prevent headaches is to determine what triggers them to begin with and eliminate those triggers from your daily life. For example, stress is a common trigger for headaches. Try getting more exercise, eat balanced meals, get more sleep and limit your caffeine consumption. If these changes do not help you reduce the frequency of your headaches, consider consulting with a pain management specialist who can help you identify any underlying medical issues that may be contributing to your headache pain.

If you're experiencing a migraine or a tension headache, it's important to see a pain specialist as soon as possible so you can get proper pain treatment to relieve your pain and prevent future attacks. A pain specialist will be able to diagnose the type of pain you are having correctly, whether it is a migraine headache or some other type of headache, and they can provide the right treatment strategy for your pain. [Acupuncture For Headaches: A Natural Pain Management Method]

Whether suffering from a severe migraine in the past or just generally concerned about heading that way, many patients find it empowering to go see a pain management NYC specialist and find out that there are things that they can do for you that can improve their life with headaches. If you are looking for relief and help with your headache pain problem, then call us now or book an appointment online to get your personalized care today!


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