Headache or Migraine? Breaking down the differences

In my line of work, I frequently hear from patients about the various pains that stem from TMJ.  One of the most common sources of pain manifests itself in headaches and migraines – intense pain that is felt in different areas throughout the head, sometimes as a result of pain in the neck and throughout the body. When trying to understand what patients are truly feeling however, these terms – headache and migraine – are commonly used interchangeably. But, are they really the same? 

Both are legitimate symptoms of other things going on in our body, but it is important to understand that there is a distinction between the two:


Headaches vs. Migraines

  •  Headaches are often an ache that is often a result of pressure experienced in or near the head. Migraines, on the other hand, involve a throbbing pain that feels more significant in pain level
  • When it comes to pain, like mentioned above, migraines are typically more severe in nature and its intensity is felt through throbbing. Headaches, while painful, will vary in severity based on the underlying cause
  • Another indicator is where you feel the pain. Headaches in general aren’t limited to one specific part of your head, while migraines will feel concentrated on one side versus the other
  • The other symptoms you might be feeling in combination with your ‘headache’ will give an indication of whether it’s a migraine or not. Typically, those who suffer from migraines will also feel a sensitivity to light and/or sound and may feel nauseous. 

It’s important to pay attention to the pain you are feeling, when it seems to come on and other symptoms that you are experiencing in conjunction with the pain. While many try to merely lessen or eliminate the pain with over-the-counter medications, that solution is only temporary.  Be sure to visit a medical professional to rule out a number of root causes – including TMJ – that could be contributing to this pain. Learn more.