“Migraines are just bad tension headaches, right?”
This is a question that gets asked frequently. But those who suffer from regular Migraines know this isn’t the case. What’s the difference between a Tension headache and a Migraine?
Personal Note: I covered this in my most recent blog post Tension Headaches.
Tension Headaches are caused, mostly, by stress and tension. They involve a dull, aching feeling usually associated with neck and/or shoulder pain. The pain is described as an annoying, pounding sensation, but it can be manageable.
Migraines are described as debilitating. They cause thousands of people to miss work, sometimes monthly. The symptoms include:
- A deep, pounding headache, typically on one side of the head
- Terrible light and sound sensitivity
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Duration of hours to days
Some of these symptoms are hit and miss. Some people don’t get nausated or have auras. But everyone who has Migraines agrees on the degree of pain they cause.
Migraines are typically diagnosed as a headache that starts on one side of the head, but can quickly envelope the entire head in pain. Why this happens is uncertain, and researchers are still studying this condition.
“What causes a Migraine?”
Every body is different and Migraines are not universal because of this.
Triggers can include:
- Menstrual hormonal changes
- Food/ additives
- Lack of sleep
- Hundreds of physical and sensory stimulants
This is a short list. Some people simply get a Migraine because of work. Others get one because of nearby fireworks. While others are triggered because dayshift workers have become nightshift workers. The list goes on and on. Usually, people can pinpoint their triggers and then, can go to their doctor to see what can be done.
Treatments range from pain pills to surgery, depending on the symptoms, frequency, duration, and triggers.
The easiest treatment is to simply stay away from the Migraine triggers. If that’s not possible, talking to a doctor would be the best advice. Sometimes a visit to a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist or Headache Neurologist is necessary.
Note: A Headache Neurologist is listed because a Migraine is actually a neurological condition. They’ll be able to tell the type of Migraine you have and what might be the best course of treatment. Check out this article on Headache Neurology.
Personal Note: Massage Therapy is contraindicated during a Migraine attack. If a client has a Migraine attack on my table, all I can do for them is get a cooling agent and put it on their head/ neck to try and calm the symptoms. Some foot and head massage can be done during this session to activate pressure points. This encourages calmness and relaxation.