Types of headache

  • There are many different types of headache
  • The commonest types of headache that occur following a mild head injury are migraine and tension-type headache
  • Some people have either migraine or tension-headache, some experience both
  • Headaches can be episodic (i.e. come and go) or chronic (occur on most days, sometimes all day)
  • Most headaches following mild head injury resolve by 3 months but some people continue to experience headaches beyond this point which is labelled as chronic daily headache

1. Migraine


What is ‘Aura’?

  • Migraines are classified as occurring with or without ‘aura’
  • This is the umbrella term we give to the various symptoms that can occur either just before or with the headache itself
  • The commonest aura are visual symptoms, such as blurring, blind spots (‘scotomas’) or seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines.
  • Others include sensory symptoms such as spreading tingling or pins and needles
  • These symptoms usually evolve over about 5 minutes and last approximately 60 minutes
  • They are always fully reversible

2. Tension-Type Headache

Tension-Type Headache

3. Chronic Daily Headache

  • Often present most days, sometimes all day
  • Can have features of migraine, tension-type headache or both
  • Important to always consider medication overuse headache as a contributory factor
  • Typical features include:

        o  Constant ‘pressing’ or ‘burning’ sensation, sometimes pounding

        o  Can occur on one side, both sides or over a small area

        o  Often worsens as the day goes on

        o  Conventional painkillers ‘only take the edge off’

  • It can be difficult to understand how a headache can cause such severe pain without any obvious underlying cause
  • Chronic Daily Headache is a widely recognised diagnosis in neurology

The development of a chronic daily headache is commonly due to the overuse of simple painkillers resulting in an additional type of headache called medication overuse headache.

Medication Overuse Headache

Find out what you can do about medication overuse headache