Headaches and migraines

Headache is one of the most common pain problems; almost everyone will have a bad headache at some point in their life. It is more common in females than males and is closely linked with muscle tension. When a headache occurs on 15 or more days a month, it is described as chronic daily headache.


Tension type headache: This is the most common headache type. As the name suggests, it is caused by stress or muscle tension.

Cluster headache: These headaches occur in clusters of several headaches a day, often at around the same time. They may occur every day for days, weeks or months and then resolve for weeks or months (a period of time called the interim).

Cervicogenic headache: This is any headache that is caused by a problem in the neck, for instance due to a traumatic injury or arthritis. Most often, pain is only on one side of the head. Sometimes it may extend down one arm.

Occipital headache: This headache occurs when the occipital nerves, the nerves that travel from your spine to your head, become irritated or inflamed. Causes include arthritis, trauma to the back of the head or whiplash injury.

Migraine: Migraine is a genetic (inherited) condition that usually requires triggers in the environment to set it off. So how often somebody has a migraine will usually depend on their environment, even if they have inherited the “migraine gene”. Some people may never get a migraine, some get migraines only every once in a while and some may get them nearly every day (chronic migraine).

You will begin to understand your headache patterns and know what is normal for you. See your healthcare provider if:

  • your headaches become more frequent or more severe

  • your headaches wake you in the morning

  • you develop new symptoms such as double vision, vomiting, poor concentration, poor coordination, weakness, numbness or high blood pressure.