Types of Headaches: What Type Do You Have?

Headaches are defined as pain in any region of the head and neck and almost everyone experiences some form of headache once in a while. The intensity and severity of the headache differs based on the type of headache you have.

Most people experience either episodic or chronic headaches. Episodic headaches only occur once in a while and can last anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Chronic headaches occur most days out of the month and can last for days at a time. At Pro Touch Physical Therapy, we can help with combating headaches by putting a plan into action.

In this blog, we are going to review the most common types of headaches.

Tension Headaches

Anyone can get a tension headache. They are typically brought on by stress. A tension headache causes a dull, aching sensation all over your head, face and neck/upper shoulders. You will also experience tenderness or sensitivity around your neck, forehead, scalp. The tightening of shoulder muscles also might occur.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches predominantly affect men and occur during the spring and fall. People that experience cluster headaches get them 1 – 4 times a day and typically at the same time of the day lasting between 15 minutes to three hours at a time. After one headache ends, another will start soon after.

Cluster headaches occur behind one eye or on one side of the face at a time. You may experience swelling, redness, flushing, sweating, nasal congestion, and eye tearing on the same side as the headache.


Migraines are debilitating and often last for days. People experience an intense pulsing deep pain within their head. Migraines cause sensitivity to light and sound and can be combined with nausea and vomiting.

Women are 3 times more likely than men to experience migraines. They often run in your family, or they can be associated with other nervous system conditions. Sleep disruption, dehydration, skipped meals, some foods, hormone fluctuations especially 3-5 days prior to menstrual cycle, and exposure to chemicals are common migraine triggers. People with post-traumatic stress disorder and temporomandibular disorders (TMD) have an increased risk for migraines.

Allergy or Sinus Headaches

Allergic reactions can cause headaches. Pain from these headaches is often focused in your sinus area and in the front of your head/face. It is common for people to misdiagnose a migraine for a sinus headache. Up to 90 percent of sinus headaches are actually migraines. People who have chronic seasonal allergies or sinusitis are susceptible to these kinds of headaches.

Hormone Headaches

Fluctuation of hormones can cause women to experience headaches. Menstruation, birth control pills, and pregnancy all affect your estrogen levels, which can cause a headache. Headaches associated with the menstrual cycle are also known as menstrual migraines. These types of headaches can occur 3-5 days before, during, or right after menses, as well as during ovulation.

Exertion Headaches

Exertion headaches are caused by periods of intense physical activity. Headaches can occur after weight lifting, running, and even sexual intercourse. These types of headache typically result in a throbbing pain on both sides of your head. The good news is that an exertion headache doesn’t usually last too long – ending within a few minutes or several hours.

Post-traumatic Headaches

If you have had a head injury or concussion, you are susceptible to post-traumatic headaches. These headaches feel like migraines or tension-type headaches, and usually last up to 6 to 12 months after your injury occurs. Unfortunately, these can become chronic.

Physical therapy successfully helps in combating headaches. Contact our team to learn how we can help treat headaches through physical therapy.

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