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Question
Posted by: Gerri | 2011/04/14

Difference between headache and migraine

Hi Doc,

Can you please explain to me what the difference is between a headache and migraine.
Do you feel it on different places? How will i know if i have a migraine?

Regards
Gerri

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Gerri,

A migraine is usually explained as a ‘vascular’ headache – in other words the pain is from dilated arteries, whereas a headache is usually regarded as more originating in the muscles of the head and neck. Most people though have a combination of the two, and it is difficult to draw an accurate line between them. It actually doesn’t make much difference whether your headache fits into the ‘migraine’ or ‘tension headache’ category, as the way to treat it is to determine which structures are causing the pain and treat the cause. The area that you feel the pain unfortunately doesn’t indicate what is hurting, as you have muscles and arteries all over the head. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”, which should include a neurological examination to rule out any serious underlying condition. There are so many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For instance, a neurologist will examine the brain and nervous system, a physiotherapist will look at the muscles, a dentist will examine the teeth etc. For this reason, the “multidisciplinary assessment” combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

This assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension, and of the external carotid vasculature to determine whether there is an arterial element to the pain.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on http://www.headacheclinic.co.za/

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) on 0861 678 911.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Headache expert | 2011/04/17

Dear Gerri,

A migraine is usually explained as a ‘vascular’ headache – in other words the pain is from dilated arteries, whereas a headache is usually regarded as more originating in the muscles of the head and neck. Most people though have a combination of the two, and it is difficult to draw an accurate line between them. It actually doesn’t make much difference whether your headache fits into the ‘migraine’ or ‘tension headache’ category, as the way to treat it is to determine which structures are causing the pain and treat the cause. The area that you feel the pain unfortunately doesn’t indicate what is hurting, as you have muscles and arteries all over the head. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”, which should include a neurological examination to rule out any serious underlying condition. There are so many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For instance, a neurologist will examine the brain and nervous system, a physiotherapist will look at the muscles, a dentist will examine the teeth etc. For this reason, the “multidisciplinary assessment” combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

This assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension, and of the external carotid vasculature to determine whether there is an arterial element to the pain.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on http://www.headacheclinic.co.za/

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) on 0861 678 911.

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