Types of Headaches
Although there are many types of headaches, some healthcare providers will classify headaches as either primary or secondary headaches. A primary headache is one for which there is no underlying condition. The most common types of primary headaches are tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are those that are caused by an underlying condition, such as strokes, brain tumors, or high blood pressure.
There are many different headache types. Sometimes healthcare providers will separate these types into primary or secondary. Primary headaches are those headaches not caused by an underlying condition. Secondary headaches are those that are caused by an underlying condition.
Other times, headache types will be separated into acute, subacute, or chronic headaches (see Causes of Headaches for more information). You may also see headaches separated into vascular, muscle contraction (tension), traction, and inflammatory types.
This article will discuss the different types of headaches by separating them into primary and secondary headaches.
As mentioned above, primary headaches are headaches for which there is no underlying disease responsible for the headache. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of headaches fall into this type. The most common types of primary headaches include:
- Tension-type headaches (also known as tension headaches or stress headaches)
- Migraine headaches
- Cluster headaches.
Tension headaches are named not only for the role that stress may play in triggering the pain, but also for the contraction of the neck, face, and scalp muscles brought on by stressful events. This is by far the most common type of headache.
A tension headache is a severe (but temporary) form of a muscle-contraction headache. The pain is mild to moderate and feels like pressure is being applied to the head or neck. The headache usually disappears after the period of stress is over (see Tension Headache Symptoms).
There are two types of tension headaches, episodic and chronic. An episodic tension headache will occur for 14 days or less per month. Chronic tension headaches occur on at least 15 days per month, with varied pain throughout the day.