What is the difference between headache vs migraines?

1. Headache

Headache is in the broader spectrum, and there are many different types of headaches. The two common forms headaches are primary and secondary:

Primary headache disorders are associated with overactivity and occur alongside with some physiological problems in the skeletal structures in the face, neck muscles and upper shoulder area which also can include but not limited to blood vessels, muscles and nerves. These types of headaches are primary because it is due to the headache condition itself and not due to another cause like secondary headaches. These symptoms can also result from the change of chemical activities in the brain. The three types of primary headaches are: 

1. Cluster 

2. Tension

3. Migraine

Primary headaches are often triggered by certain foods, alcohol, sleeping habits, stress etc… Nine out of Ten headaches fall under primary. (www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/secondary-headaches#1)

Secondary headaches on the other hand are due to another underlying condition(s) or disease. The symptom here is the headache. Symptoms and causes of secondary headaches can be:

  • It’s the worst headache you ever had
  • Comes quickly without warning
  • During pregnancy
  • Overuse of medication (also known as REBOUND HEADACHES)
  • Concussion
  • Teeth grinding especially at night
  • Brain tumour or blood clots
  • Comes after exercise, sex, or squeeze your body.
  • Stroke
  • Glaucoma
  • High blood pressure
  • Sinus Infections

The general public thinks that having a headache is something ‘normal’ that occurs in our lives. However, if it has been ongoing for a certain period, persistent and begins to affect our daily lives or routines, it may be time or necessary to get professional medical advice for your headaches and seek intervention immediately to know your exact cause and treatment of your headaches.

2. Migraines

A migraine falls under a primary and can be a severe form of headaches. In a migraine headache additional but different symptoms occur than the usual headache. Often a migraine would be accompanied by pulsating and/or throbbing kind of discomfort on one side of the head or face.


These symptoms might include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Blurred vision with aura or without aura
  • Episodic timing
  • Lightheadedness

Migraine usually lasts from 2-3 days period, but can go up to 5 days on severe cases. Migraines often affects females and often provoked by stress and alcohol use.

*** On the side note: visual aura refers to blurry vision, blind spots or flickering lights with partial vision loss that can be in a sickle or C-shaped or with zigzag lines on the edge. 

The visual aura can last from 10 to 30 minutes.

Other common symptoms of Migraines can include:

  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhoea Feeling hot or cold
  • Sweating
  • Discomfort in the neck, behind eyes and across nose and jaw

What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

  • First and foremost our chiropractors will perform a thorough health history of your condition to narrow down the type of headaches a patient is experiencing. Our chiropractors will assess physically the area of concern and review possible underlying conditions that may need more assessment and/or testing. 
  • After everything has been assessed and verified our chiropractors will begin treatment and this can include spinal manipulations to restore motion & function to the body and alleviate any stress physically in the head, neck and shoulder area.
  • Other ancillary treatments and/or professional service provided will be advice on proper posture, ergonomics, specific exercises and stretches and traction, if needed. These option’s for treatment is design and specifically design for the patient’s own unique condition.
  • Additionally if needed basic nutritional advice, recommendation in diet can be provided.

Have a question about chiropractic adjustments or want to schedule an appointmentCall us now!

Article Written By

Sonia Youn DC, Msc.

Doctor of Chiropractic

Healing Hands Chiropractic Singapore

  1. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/73936.php
  2. Retrieved from https://www.orthoclinic.com.sg/our-services/migraine/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyezjw7ni3wIVEAoqCh0KTw-AEAAYASAAEgJ9qfD_BwE