Categories of Headaches

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Headaches range greatly in severity, duration, and intensity. There are three categories of headaches commonly recognized by the medical community. These are:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain and other headaches
  • Idiopathic headaches are headaches that do not have a clear cause

Primary Headaches

This classification means that the headaches themselves are the cause of pain and discomfort. While they may have underlying causes that are hard to determine and may be somewhat mysterious, the headache is both a symptom and the actual problem, there are no other causes for the headache. The main types of primary headaches are:

  • Tension headache – This is the most common type of headache, suffered by approximately 90 percent of the population at some time or other.
  • Migraine headache – The next most common type of headache, migraines affect approximately 28 percent of the population.
  • Cluster headache – The rarest of the primary headaches are cluster headaches, which affect less than one percent of the population.

The diagnoses for these types of headaches are generally made during your subjective history you provide to your dentist. Migraine headaches and tension headaches are both intimately connected to jaw function and the trigeminal nervous system. Evaluation of the TM joint and functional status of jaw muscles should be part of the evaluation process.


Headaches that are a sign or symptom of some other underlying problem are known as secondary headaches. While there are numerous health problems that can cause headaches, some of the most serious include:

  • Meningitis – A highly contagious disease that affects the meninges, the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord.
  • Encephalitis – An acute inflammation of the brain.
  • Tumor – A benign or malignant growth putting pressure on the brain or skull.
  • Traumatic brain injury – Any injury that affects the head, severity can range from mild, to moderate, to severe.

The above are a few of the serious problems that must be ruled out in headache patients.  After serious conditions have been ruled out, the remaining referred or secondary headaches frequently are amenable to treatment with neuromuscular dental/orthopedic treatment.

Cranial Neuralgias, Facial Pain and Other Headaches

Neuralgia literally means nerve pain. Cranial neuralgia describes a specific type of headache caused by inflammation of the nerves of the head and neck. Facial pain is included in this category as a subset of neuralgic pain. Trigeminal neuralgia is considered to be one of the most severe pains ever experienced.

Other kinds of headaches are simply those that do not fall conveniently into any of the other categories.

Get Help for Your Headaches

Because there are so many classifications and types of headaches, each with varying causes, severity, and intensity, it is important to properly diagnose which kind of headache you are suffering.

With a proper diagnosis, your doctor can then put together a comprehensive headache treatment plan of lifestyle changes, medication, and behavior modification in order to control your headache pain.

It is also very important to rule out any serious underlying and potentially life-threatening condition as quickly as possible. If you think your headache is unusual in anyway, it is best to get a professional opinion from a qualified dentist.

Contact Think Better Life for information on what type of headache you suffer from, so your condition can be treated properly. Call 1-847-533-8313 today.