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4 Things that Differentiate Migraines from Headaches

Thousands of patients come to practices like Balanced Living Chiropractic for Midland migraine relief. However, many of these individuals confuse their migraines for headaches. Notably, this happens because both conditions share several similarities. If you happen to get stuck in the same dilemma, you might find it helpful to go over our list of migraine and headache differences. This way, you can effectively identify what sort of remedies or lifestyle adjustments you might need. 

#1. Location of the pain

Unlike regular headaches, migraine attacks primarily affect one side of the head. In fact, according to studies, 40 to 80 percent of migraineurs experience unilateral pain in their head. In rare cases, So, the next time you notice the slightest throbbing in your head, we strongly recommend checking the specific location of the pain. If you notice unilateral pain, you might have a migraine episode. However, if the pain and pressure affect several parts of your head, it could be a headache.

#2. The average duration of an episode 

Studies found that headaches and migraines have varying episode lengths. Notably, migraines episodes can stretch for several days. It can also come with distinct stages: prodrome, aura, headache, and hangover phase. Meanwhile, other headaches such as tension headaches and cluster headaches only last for a few hours. These can also cause intense throbbing that can recur several times a month. 

We strongly recommend tracking the average duration of an attack using a migraine diary. On top of that, we suggest noting the intensity of the symptoms you experience. This will help you establish a pattern that might come in handy when you search for a source of Midland migraine relief.   

#3. Intensity and characteristics of the pain

When observing your symptoms and differentiating between migraines and headaches, you should most definitely consider the pain intensity. Notably, migraines can cause varying levels of pain to a patient. On the one hand, tension headaches and sinus headaches inflict mild to moderate pain, while cluster headaches cause crippling symptoms. 

We also strongly advise checking the specific characteristics of your episodes. Here are a few guide questions you can use as a guide when describing what you feel to your doctor: 

  • Do you feel as if a tight band surrounds the circumference of your head? (tension headache)
  • Do you experience nasal congestion, a mild headache, and facial pain? (sinus headache)
  • Do your headaches come in clusters and cause crippling pain? (cluster headache)
  • Do you have a throbbing or pulsating sensation on one side of your head? (migraine) 

#4. Accompanying symptoms 

Another distinction between headaches and migraines is the noticeable accompanying symptom(s). Notably, tension headaches can come hand in hand with a stiff shoulder, neck, or upper back. On the one hand, sinus headaches can cause a watery eye and a stuffed nose. 

On the other hand, migraines can trigger many problems in the different stages of an attack. Some examples of these include:

  • Vertigo
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Visual problems (blurry vision, tunnel vision, etc.)
  • Stiff neck
  • Upset stomach
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden food cravings


List of Ways to Eliminate Migraines or Headaches

When left unattended, migraines and headaches can leave a significant impact on your work routine. They can also take a toll on your life, especially when you get tired of using medications to cope with your symptoms. Thankfully, plenty of possible natural and holistic remedies work wonders in providing lasting migraine and headache relief. Here are a few examples:

  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Stress management
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Yoga and deep breathing
  • Upper cervical care


Achieve Midland Migraine Relief With The Help Of Dr. John Kowalcyzk

Now that you know the main differences between migraines and headaches, we hope you can quickly distinguish the specific condition you have. If in case you experience migraine attacks, we suggest exploring upper cervical care. 

Several case studies have proven the effectiveness of atlas and axis bone adjustments in relieving the crippling symptoms of migraines. Essentially, it aims to eliminate signal interferences that may be causing your brain and nervous system to misfire. It also improves fluid drainage to reduce the pressure inside the skull. 

Many patients attest to be the effectiveness of upper cervical care in reducing the intensity and frequency of a migraine attack. So, you can be confident of seeing improvements when you seek the same remedy. Here’s a quick look at what you should expect during your appointment:

  • Your first visit will primarily involve thoroughly assessing your neck bones (C1 and C2 bones). This will allow us to gauge how far the bones shifted away from the body's central axis.
  • We will measure the degree of cervical spine subluxation using different methods, including doing a 3D X-ray scan of the neck, checking your gait, and looking at physical signs of neck bone misalignment. 
  • Once we have everything needed for the assessment, we can discuss how to proceed. 

It can take several weeks or months to retrain your cervical spine. But, we will keep you up-to-date on the progress using X-ray scans of your C1 and C2 bones. Additionally, we will provide you with essential patient care tips to help you maintain the adjustments and experience long-term relief or complete resolution of your migraine symptoms.

Ready to jumpstart your journey towards achieving sustainable Midland migraine relief? Visit Dr. Kowalcyzk at Balanced Living Chiropractic. You may reach us at (989) 495-9003 or book your visit online via our contact form.


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kowalczyk, call our Midland office at 989-495-9003. You can also click the button below.

If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at

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