Migraine & Tension Headaches


Most obviously, headaches begin as a dull ache of the head and/or neck, and build to extreme, throbbing pain. Pain is usually, but not always, confined to one side of the head and persists for at least several hours (or longer). After the pain subsides, the migraine sufferer is commonly left feeling tired or drained, and occasionally elated.

Other characteristic symptoms (may occur before and/or concurrently with headache):
constipation or diarrhea
nausea and/or vomiting
sensitivity to light
sensitivity to noise
sensitivity to odors
tender scalp
visible enlargement of blood vessels
neck and/or shoulder pain and stiffness
extremity pain

Aura (usually preceding pain in classic migraines):
Visual disturbance,blind spots,flashing lights, tunnel vision,visual and auditory hallucinations, zig zag patterns, numbness of parts of body,ringing in ears, speech disturbance, other sensory disturbances, blurred vision, visual hallucinations & olfactory hallucinations.

Other common symptoms include abdominal distention, chilliness, cold extremities, compulsion to yawn, dry mouth, edema, excessive sweating, heavy or light nasal drainage, increased urine activity, intellectual disturbance (e.g. confusion, difficulty concentrating, or increased ability to think clearly prior to headache onset), mood changes’ sensitivity to touch, tremors, vertigo & increased heart rate


Even if we do not wake with a headache, a slight increase of muscle contraction during the day can push already stressed muscles over the pain threshold and cause a headache.Triggers vary from person to person. The following are some triggers that may spark off head pain episodes:Daytime stress , Eye strain , Exertion ,Sinus infection , Caffeine withdrawal ,Monosodium glutamate (MSG) ,Changes in weather , Eyeglasses or headbands , Hormonal changes , Certain foods such as: Apples, Cheese, Chocolate, Peanuts, Red Wine.


Studies confirm that people who suffer migraine pain and chronic headaches clench their jaw intensely, mostly at night. This clenching causes significant muscular contraction, mainly of the temporalis muscles on the sides of the head. People who wake with head pain and tenderness may not realize they clench.Muscles that are stressed during the night set the stage for:Migraine headaches , Tension type headaches , Sinus headaches , Tinnitus , Allergy headaches , Premenstrual headaches , Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain & Pericranial (around the head) tenderness.


According to traditional classification schemes, the two most common types of migraines are classic, and common. In classic migraine, the headache is preceded by an “aura”, which usually consists of visual disturbances (but can involve the other senses such as the sense of smell). Common migraine has no aura. See the FAQ part IV for information about cluster headaches, which are perhaps the third most common type of severe headaches.


Is it true that women are more likely to suffer from migraines?

Yes. Women are more likely to be classic or common migraine sufferers. Estimates vary, but they hover at around 70%.

At what age do migraines usually start?

Migraines can begin at any age, but most people develop them around adolescence or in their 20’s.

Are migraines hereditary?

Usually. Most migraine sufferers have a close family member who also gets them. According to Neil Raskin in his book Headache: 50-60% of parents of migraineurs have a history of migraine vs. 10-20% of parents of headache-free subjects.

How frequent are most migraines?

Frequency is highly variable, and to some extent depends on what your individual triggers are. In general, common migraines are said to occur more frequently than classic ones, and no matter what type you suffer from, the frequency usually decreases with age.

I also get tension headaches. Is that normal?

Yes, migraine sufferers also get tension headaches. Tension headaches are characterized in part by an inability to relax the scalp and neck muscles. Low serotonin has been implicated in tension headache pain. They worsen with vasoconstrictive drugs and get better with vasodilators.

Can chronic headaches be successfully treated?

Our program has treated chronic headaches with a high rate of success. A variety of treatments can be used to improve or eliminate headache problems, and a wide majority of our patients have experienced improvement after using these treatment methods.

Do migraines have to be treated with prescription drugs?

Medication is only one treatment for migraines. There are a variety of non-pharmacologic treatments as well. These treatments include identification and elimination of trigger factors, stress-management strategies and relaxation exercises, biofeedback techniques, and actions to promote sleep.


**Jaw clenching muscles of migraine sufferers are 70% larger in volume and generate significantly higher bite forces that control subjects.  (muscles enlarge and strengthen resulting from habitual intense exercise)
**Migraine sufferers who experience headaches soon after or upon waking show significant evidence of nocturnal jaw clenching.
**Pericranial tenderness (soreness of the muscles of the scalp upon palpation) is present in every migraine and tension-type headache sufferer, while absent in controls. (Pericranial tenderness results from over work of a muscle, i.e., jaw clenching during sleep)
**Tension-type headache patients contract their temporalis muscles (clench their jaw) during sleep, on average, 14 times more intensely that asymptomatic controls.
**Simple minimal voluntary jaw-clenching (of less than 30% of maximum effort) for 30 minutes (with two rest periods) still results in a headache for 63% of migraine sufferers. Jaw clenching during sleep can frequently exceed voluntary maximum .
**A traditional dental mouthpiece can allow for clenching intensity and resultant symptoms to perpetuate or intensify.
**A device which prevents back molar and canine tooth contacts reduces clenching intensity to 1/3 of maximum.
**The NTI-tss, which prevents back molar and canine tooth contact while being worn during sleep, provides a 77% average reduction in migraine pain episodes for 82% of migraine sufferers.