Headaches Take Many Different Forms – Chiropractors at The Avenue Clinic Explain The Difference

Cluster Headache

Cluster headache is a rare type of headache that affects about 1 to 2 people in every 1,000. It is one of the most painful conditions an individual can experience, described as excruciating and even more debilitating than migraine.

The symptoms of cluster headache are very typical. The pain in your head is always unilateral (one sided), although for some people the side can vary from time to time. The pain is usually centred over one eye, one temple or the forehead. It can spread to a larger area making diagnosis harder.

During a bout of cluster headache the pain is often experienced at a similar time each day. The headache often starts at night waking people one to two hours after they have gone to sleep. The pain usually reaches its full intensity within 5 to 10 minutes and lasts at this agonising level for between 30 and 60 minutes. For some people the pain can last for 15 minutes, for others 3 hours has been known. It then stops, usually fairly abruptly.

You may experience the head pain every other day during a bout, or up to 8 times per day during a bad cluster.


Tension Headache

A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and the one we think of as a normal, everyday headache.

It may feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head. You may also feel the neck muscles tighten and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes.

A tension headache normally won’t be severe enough to prevent you doing everyday activities.

It usually lasts for 30 minutes to several hours, though can last for several days.

Tension can arise from jaw problems – grinding your teeth is common when you are tense – particularly at night when you don’t even know you are doing so! This overloads the muscles around the jaw and refers pain to the head.

Most people are likely to have experienced a tension headache at some point. They can develop at any age, but are more common in teenagers and adults. They are also more common in women than men.

It is estimated that about half the adults in the UK experience tension-type headaches once or twice a month, and about 1 in 3 get them up to 15 times a month.

About 2 or 3 in every 100 adults experience tension-type headaches more than 15 times a month for at least three months in a row. This is known as having chronic tension-type headaches.


A migraine is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or on one side of the head.

Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light.

Migraine is a common health condition, affecting about 15% of adults in the UK.

There are several types of migraine, including:

  • Migraine with aura is when there is a warning sign, known as aura, before the migraine begins. About a third of people with migraine have this. Warning signs may include visual problems (such as flashing lights) and stiffness in the neck, shoulders or limbs.
  • Migraine without aura
  • Migraine without headache, also known as silent migraine, is when an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop.

Migraines affect one in four women and one in 12 men in the UK.

Hormones may be the reason why migraines affect more women than men. For example, some women find that migraine attacks are more frequent around the time of their period. However, this association has not been proven.

Migraines usually begin in young adults. About 9 in 10 have their first migraine before they are 40 years old. However, it is possible for migraines to begin later in life.

Everyone will experience migraines differently. Some people have attacks frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. It is possible for years to pass between migraine attacks.

If you experience headaches then do call us about how chiropractic treatment may help.

If you have had chiropractic treatment that has helped to relieve your headache, do share your story by going to our comments section below and leaving your story.