Distinguishing The Different Types Of Headaches

We have often talked about headaches in the past and how it is linked to issues arising from the neck (Neck-Related Headaches and Causing Most of the World’s Pain, Anonymously). The type of headaches that we talk is called “Cervicogenic Headaches”. But often readers ask us how do we distinguish cervicogenic ones from other types of headaches, so we described here some of the most common types.


Classifying Headaches is quite a complex task. “The International Classification of Headache Disorders” by the International Headache Society runs to 150 pages. So what is “Cervicogenic Headaches”. It is a type of tension headache. But not all tension headaches are cervicogenic headaches. Furthermore, the type of cervicogenic headaches that physiotherapist deals with are more specifically are those related to myofascial tender spots,


So figure out, the most common types are tension, sinus and migraines. How they feel like is described below:

TypeWhat it feels likeWho gets itHow often and for how long
TensionMild to moderate steady pain throughout the head, but commonly felt across the forehead or in the back of the head. Generally not accompanied by other symptoms.Can affect children, but is most common in adults.Frequency varies. Generally hours in length.
SinusMild to moderate steady pain that typically occurs in the face, at the bridge of the nose, or in the cheeks. May be accompanied by nasal congestion and postnasal drip.Affects people of all ages. People with allergies seem most vulnerable.Frequency varies. Generally hours in length. Often seasonal.
MigraineModerate to severe throbbing pain, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The pain may be localized to the temple, eye, or back of the head, often on one side only. In migraine with aura, visual disturbance precedes the pain.Typically occurs from childhood to middle age. In children, migraine is slightly more common among males, but after puberty, it’s much more common in females.Attacks last a day or longer. They tend to occur less often during pregnancy and with advancing age.


  1. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, Cephalalgia, Volume 24 Supplement 1 2004 2nd Ed.
  2. Headaches: Relieving and preventing migraine and other headaches, Harvard Medical School Special Report