Headaches are one of the most common afflictions a person can suffer from. In fact, there are over 300 known types of headaches. Some are slight and easy to ignore while others, especially when chronic, can have a major impact on your life and daily functioning.

Headaches include a variety of types, many symptoms, and an even wider range of potential causes. Keep reading about the different categories of headache below and possible chronic headache causes.

Tension Headache

The most common headache type, tension headaches create the sensation that both sides of the head are under pressure. These headaches also create tension and pain in the head and neck, further contributing to general discomfort.

Tension headaches are by and large caused by stress, anxiety, and depression. As such, they are also found concurrently with other symptoms such as low mood, lethargy, and other psychiatric symptoms.

The pain from these headaches is usually relieved through over the counter pain medications. Residual tension can be further dealt with through stress reducing techniques and massage.

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Migraine Headache

Among one of the more painful headaches an individual can suffer from, migraines are known for the characteristic pain they cause to one side of the head. This is sometimes accompanied by more severe migraine symptoms such as a visual aura (known as ocular migraine), nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to sound.

Like other headaches, over the counter medications are an option for pain management. However, if migraines are recurrent for weeks or months, it may be time to speak to a healthcare professional and begin prescription medications.

Migraine headaches have a variety of triggers which are identified such as:

  • Stress
  • Changes in Weather
  • Missed Sleep
  • Missed meals 
  • Dietary triggers
  • Sensory triggers such as excessively bright light or noise

Transformed Migraine

Transformed Migraines (also called chronic migraine) are a fusion, symptomatically, of tension headaches and traditional migraines. This is because they have many of the elements of both headaches, but they happen at a slightly lower pain threshold and occur more than 15 days a month.

These symptoms, causes, and treatment of this type of headache is similar to that of tension headaches and migraines.

Cluster Headache 

Widely regarded as the most painful headache, cluster headaches are very often confused with traditional migraines as the pain occurs predominantly on one side of the head.

The difference in cluster headache pain is the localization and timing of its occurrence. These symptoms include severe pain that normally occurs at the same time (or times) each day, located in the back of one eye.

Unfortunately, the causes of cluster headaches are a bit of a mystery. While the medical community believes the pain may be related to abnormalities in the function of the hypothalamus, there is little known about potential triggers for this type of pain.

Sinus Headache

Sinus issues can result in chronic daily headaches for many individuals, especially during allergy season or when suffering from a sinus infection. These headaches commonly present as pressure in the sinus regions of the face– above the eyebrows and on the sides of the nose. As such, these can cause further radiating pain into the eye region.

When sinus headaches present themselves, treating the pain most effectively starts with treating the underlying cause. Double check if you have a sinus infection (and get the appropriate antibiotics if you do) and try over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and decongestants.

Seasonal allergies are the most common cause of sinus headache, but the symptoms may also appear in cases where individuals are suffering from a sinus infection or even a head cold.

Rebound Headache (Aka: Medication overuse headaches)

Oddly enough, rebound headaches are actually a side effect of repeatedly taking pain medications to try and reduce headache. In these cases, the primary headache becomes a repeated event– growing in severity until it develops into a near constant presence whether medication is taken or not.

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, headaches are nothing to worry about. As you can see from the above list, they are usually caused by a range of external factors and can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.

However, on occasion, a headache can be a sign of more serious underlying causes. Your headache might fall into this category if it meets any of the below criteria:

  • Unbearably severe headaches
  • Headaches that are outside of your usual pattern 
  • Onset of regular headaches if you have no history of headaches 
  • Headaches that occur suddenly and wake you from sleep
  • Headaches accompanied by adverse neurological symptoms (such as blurred vision and stiff muscles)
  • Headaches occuring after a head injury

The above list is non-exhaustive. As such, it’s always wise to reach out to a healthcare provider for more information if you believe your headache may be a sign of something more serious.

Arizona Pain Management

You don’t need to be suffering from a serious complication to seek out the help of a pain management specialist. For individuals looking for a solution that provides better, longer lasting relief, the Arizona Pain and Spine Institute can help.

The Arizona Pain and Spine Institute boasts a full team of seasoned professionals who specialize in minimally invasive and clinically proven modalities to help manage and assess both long and short-term pain. Here, we use a variety of traditional and integrative technologies to help heal the whole person and bring their symptoms back under control.

Contact us at (480) 986-7246 for more information on the service we provide, find which doctor is right for you, and get on the path to discussing your next treatment options.