A migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Physiologically, the typical migraine headache is unilateral and pulsating, lasting from 4 to 72 hours. The cause of a migraine headache is unknown however, trigger points in the shoulders and neck have shown referral patterns that when pressed relieve symptoms. Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms, including vision disturbances, that are a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.
Tension headache involves intermittent episodes of head discomfort that are mild to moderate in intensity and include non-throbbing “tightness” or “pressure,” generally on both sides of the head, and are not aggravated by routine physical activity. Nausea, vomiting, and light/sound sensitivity are rarely present. Tension headaches may last from 30 minutes to 7 days, occurring on more than one but fewer than 15 days a month. If headaches are present 15 or more days in a month, the tension headache is considered chronic tension headaches. People who use pain medications for tension headaches, especially if used regularly, are more prone to developing chronic tension headache. In some cases, not treating the tension headache at all, called “under treatment,” can also cause the headache to become a chronic tension headache.
Treatment for Migraine & Tension Headache
Many migraines are actually tension headaches which may come from trigger points in the neck and shoulder. The best way to treat migraine and tension headaches is to first “correctly and specifically” identify its cause. The cause of migraine and tension headaches is normally the bodies attempt to correct postural misalignments of the upper back and neck. A competent postural alignment assessment by a medical massage therapist must be the first step. A qualified medical massage therapist can find and correct the cause of postural misalignment and improper muscle tension that could cause migraine and tension headaches.