August 2023 – Dr. John Filo

A common misdiagnosis I’m seeing more in practice – particularly in teenagers – is the confusion between a Tension headache and a Migraine. In my opinion, the “Migraine” word gets thrown around way too loosely these days and has become ubiquitous with a pounding headache in the back of the neck, temples or over the eyes. 

In reality, migraines are very rare and are usually associated with a chronic neurological condition and hormonal imbalance. Often times, migraines are accompanied with vision disturbances, dizziness or nausea. True migraines appear once every few months, usually come with an aura type sensation before it starts, and are often triggered by environmental factors or stress. Common triggers being coffee, alcohol and sugary foods – which impact the neurological system.

If you’re child or teenager is experiencing repeated headaches, either once a week or more, its highly likely he/she is experiencing a tension headache. 

Tension headaches, unlike migraines, stem from a muscle and joint condition typically triggered by postural stress in the neck and mid back region. This is becoming much more prevalent in young teens and adolescents for ONE obvious reason; increased usage time on devices accompanied by flexion of the neck and rounding of the shoulders. Too much static posture is also a major factor.

Rebecca’s case:

Last month, I had a mom bring her 16 year old daughter Rebecca to the clinic complaining of chronic weekly headaches that she’s been suffering from since she was 14.  Yes, a 16 year old with 2 years of weekly headaches, countless visits to doctors and specialists who’ve run her through a gamut of tests like CT’s, X-rays, bloodwork – all perfectly clear – only to label her with a Migraine diagnosis.   

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By |September 10th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Migraine vs Headache: Knowing the difference is everything