What is your headache?

Sounds like a silly question doesn’t it? YOUR headache? Isn’t a headache a headache?

Take it from someone who knows–headaches come in many forms. They can be tension, sinus, stress, migraine, cervicogenic and many more. For me, the two most common headaches I have are migraine (About 40% of my headaches) and cervicogenic (the other 50-60%). Furthermore, migraines come in all forms as well–and I’ve experienced nearly all of them.

I will try to give you a general rundown here about the different types and how to differentiate them and while I consider myself somewhat of an expert, I don’t know EVERYTHING–my treatment methods may not work for all of you and probably aren’t AMA recommended but I will share them as well at a later date.

Let’s start with the common ones:

Tension/Stress headache

A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. A tension headache (tension-type headache) is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren’t well-understood. —Read More at Mayo Clinic

Sinus headache

I recently learned that these don’t actually exist–more on that in a future post.

Sinus headaches are headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses (sinusitis). You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Perhaps your head throbs.

However, many people who assume they have headaches from sinusitis, including many who have received such a diagnosis, actually have migraines or tension headaches. —Read More at Mayo Clinic

Now on to my top 3 types of headaches:

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are my most common headaches. It was only after I started receiving botox injection therapy that I even realized many of my headaches were not migraines. A migraine starts in the brain whereas a many of mine started in the cervical spine. (These other often felt just like my migraines.)

Both of these types of headaches have similar symptoms:

  • Intense pain in behind the eyes, back of the head, etc
  • Aura
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Neck stiffness
  • Mood changes
  • Visual impairment
  • Pins and needles in arm or leg
  • Weekness or numbness in face or extremeties
  • Speech difficulties

At Mayoclinic.org you can read about all of the symptoms, causes, etc. However, there are basically 3 phases of a migraine: prodrome, attack, and post-drome. In 2016 I had just over 300 days of migraine pain (5 days a month pain free) which is to say that for the entire year I was under the effects of one long miserable migraine experience. During the days I wasn’t in pain, I was either i prodrome or post-drome–either recovering from a migraine or ramping up to the next one. A quick perusal of Migraine.com and you will find many references to “migraine hangover” or “migraine fog”–this happens during the post-drome phase.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches have many of the very same symptoms but they start in the neck and are my second most common. These headaches exhibit many of the same symptoms as above. Treatment differs in that they can be treated with therapy, epidurals and more. Even with all of the headaches I have had, I am still learning about mechanisms that cause all types of my headaches which is why I have started this journal.

Government Reporting Headaches

  • Is this a joke? Really?
  • Seriously, I have worked at in K-12, legal industry, automotive, higher ed and financial and they all have one thing in common: GOVERNMENT REPORTING. If you’ve never worked with the government, then you don’t know, but if you have, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!
  • This type of headache starts at the keyboard and moves into the deepest recesses of your brain and causes an intense desire to reach through the phone and strangle some government lackey.
  • It happens, I have them at least 3 days a week these days. 😡

Like I said, this isn’t an exhaustive list and I don’t have a medical degree, but over the last 20 years, I have spent approximately 6 full years (2,200 days of headache pain) in pain due to various headaches so I have experience in the field.

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