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7 Ways to Spot the Difference Between a Migraine and a Common Tension Headache

Tension headaches are common — Over 70% of the population will experience one in their lifetime.

Migraines are also common but less so, with approximately 1 in 7 people experiencing migraine at some point in their lives. That’s around one billion people.

As common as they are, the two conditions are often confused with each other. Some people think they have a bad headache and they really are having a migraine. Others are having a headache and falsely claim it to be a migraine.

Why So Much Confusion?

The reasons are simple: Misinformation and misdiagnosis.

So many people who have head pain either neglect to talk to a medical professional, or seek one out only to be misdiagnosed.

What’s more — If you ask someone if they have heard of migraines, almost everyone you speak to you will say yes. Then ask them what a migraine is and very few can give you an accurate answer.

The World Health Organization has confirmed this issue on a global scale and reported that migraines are under-diagnosed, under-treated and poorly managed.

How a Migraine is Different From a Tension Headache?

The only way to solve this global health problem is with greater awareness and understanding of migraine.

To help increase your understanding below are the 7 differences between migraine and tension headache:

  1. Migraine tends to be one-sided. A tension headache is usually both sides.
  2. Migraine tends be throbbing or pulsating quality versus pressure from a tension headache.
  3. Migraine gets worse with activity or movement, tension doesn’t.
  4. Migraine is always associated with another symptom like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound and visual disruptions (aura).
  5. Migraine Pain is usually moderate to severe pain versus tension headaches which are mild to moderate pain. During a migraine attack over 90% of migraineurs cannot function normally. Over half of those with migraine experience severe impairment or require bed rest.
  6. Migraine doesn’t respond to many over the counter treatments.
  7. The duration for migraine and tension headaches differ. To classify a migraine, attacks will last between 4 -72 hours without treatment. Tension headaches on the other hand can last a little as 30 mins but extend to 7 days.

Effective Migraine Management in Southern California

Here at Pasadena Pain Management, we are dedicated to pain treatment without heavy use of prescription medications. Our TruDenta pain therapy relies on scientific dental technology and sports medicine techniques to relieve pain without drugs or invasive needles.

Contact Us Today for a FREE CONSULTATION at Pasadena Pain Management. We can evaluate your headaches, migraines, TMJ pain, head and neck pain and tell you whether our TruDenta care program is right for you.