Why a Migraine Isn't Just a Headache

Why a Migraine Isn't Just a Headache

Virtually everyone will deal with a headache at some point in their lives. But a migraine is something entirely different. While some people use the terms headache and migraine interchangeably, they’re actually very different. 

Fortunately, if you deal with head pain so severe that it grinds your day to a halt, Dr. Jonathan D. Carlson can help. Here at Hawai’i Pain and Spine, on the Windward side of O Ľahu in Kailua, he specializes in treating migraines, so you can finally find some relief. 

To help you determine if it’s time to come see us about your migraines, let’s look at the differences between this condition and headaches. 

Migraines vs. headaches

While headaches and migraines both mean head pain, there are some key differentiators. Let’s compare migraines against tension headaches, the most common type of headache.

Pain sensation

Tension headaches feel like just that: tension. You might feel like your head is being squeezed or like there’s pressure inside your head. Generally, these headaches feel like dull, aching pain.

Migraines, on the other hand, feel like severe, throbbing pain. You might feel the pain on one side of your head or both. The pain resulting from a migraine can be debilitating. 

Other symptoms

Migraines can cause:

Tension headaches, on the other hand, generally don’t come with symptoms other than the head pain itself. 


Tension headaches usually last 30 minutes to several hours. They can extend days, but that’s relatively rare.

Migraines, on the other hand, usually last at least four hours and can drag on for three days. 

Warning signs

The only warning sign most people experience for a tension headache is a smaller headache that grows over time. 

People who get migraines might experience warning signs like fatigue, digestive problems, or blurred vision.

Treatment options

Headaches generally respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers. Migraines usually require more involved treatment. 

Finding relief from migraines

Here at Hawai’i Pain and Spine, Dr. Carlson works with you to help you find relief from your migraine pain. A preventive treatment could be as simple as having some caffeine when you feel your migraine warning signs. 

Alongside lifestyle changes, some of the treatments he might recommend include:

Clearly, you have options. To get relief from your severe head pain, don’t hesitate to call our office to schedule your appointment today.

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