If you’re like most, you have probably suffered from a headache at some point in your lifetime, be it a tension headache, a migraine, or another type of headache. Two of the most common types of headaches are tension and migraine headaches; one study shows that upwards of three million people in the U.S. report having tension headaches, while another report suggests that nearly 12 percent of Americans suffer from migraines. Let’s look at these and other common headaches in today’s blog post. Please continue reading below to learn more.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are one of the most common types of headaches that affects millions of Americans. In fact, migraines are a common reason many miss work on a regular basis. The National Headache Foundation reports that nine out of ten migraine sufferers report the inability to function normally when experiencing a migraine attack. Pain may vary from mild to moderate pulsing to severe throbbing, both of which usually affects one side of the side, or may be located behind the eyes and around the front of the head. Migraine attacks can come on quickly or gradually over the course of several hours. These headaches may last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. This is typically a chronic condition that can be caused by a variety of triggers including neck and/or head injuries, changes in weather and barometric pressure, certain foods, and are often related to genetics. Here are some of the most common migraine triggers:

  • Stress, tension, and anxiety
  • Auto, work, and sports-related injuries
  • Medications
  • Environmental changes
  • Foods such as cheeses, seafood, and processed foods; food additives like MSG and artificial sweetener
  • Drinks high in sugar, caffeine, and especially alcoholic drinks like wine
  • Sensory triggers like sun glares and bright lights, loud noises, and intense and sharp scents that come from chemicals or perfumes

Symptoms that may accompany migraine headaches include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  • Pain at the base of the skull, neck pain and stiffness, and muscle weakness
  • Aura – visual disturbances that appear before or during a migraine attack, which include visual phenomena such as seeing shapes, a zigzag pattern, or wavy flashes that impede one’s vision; temporary loss of vision in one eye due to a flash sensation or seeing black dots
  • Muscle weakness in the face
  • In severe cases, impaired motor skills, speech, function, and mobility

Migraines can be treated with alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture, along with a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications prescribed by a physician or neurologist.  

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are incredibly common. These are often described as mild to moderate pain and tension related to muscle tightening in the back of the neck, at the base of the skull, and/or in the scalp. Tension headaches are generally classified as either episodic or chronic, depending on severity and frequency of the associated symptoms.


Frequently referred to as “stress headaches,” stress, tension, anxiety, and even fatigue are the usual culprits that trigger episodic tension headaches. This type of a tension headache appears at random and may produce a mild throbbing pain to a sharp intense pain. These are usually brief episodes that can be relieved by drinking water or a caffeinated beverage, massaging the area in pain, and by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like Aspirin or acetaminophen.


Chronic tension headaches occur daily or last for an extended period of time. While pain may vary during chronic episodes, they tend to last for around 24-hours, and may affect a person consistently, even when the pain is not incredibly intense. For those suffering from chronic tension headaches, it’s best to consult your chiropractor and/or physician to address what may be causing these headaches. While prescription medication may be recommended in some cases, natural treatments such as a chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and other drug-free alternatives may relieve these headaches.

Some of the most common symptoms associated with both types of tension headaches include:

  • Mild to intense pain in the forehead, temples, back of the head, and/or base of the skull into the neck
  • Achy, sore muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Muscle tension that causes a tightening sensation around the head and/or neck
  • Trouble focusing/concentrating
  • Sometimes causes numbness, tingling, and/or muscle weakness

Schedule for Chiropractic Care

These are the two most common types of headaches, but keep in mind that people may experience the causes and symptoms differently. If you suffer from either of these types of headaches, or other health conditions that cause headaches, call Barfield Chiropractic. As Murfreesboro’s Top Rated Local® chiropractor, we’re here to help restore your health and get you on the road to healing. We’re always accepting new patients, so when you search “chiropractor near me,” choose us for effective, compassionate natural healing to improve your health and wellness.