• Kelly Goorts

Understanding Headaches

Updated: Feb 10

The first thing to recognize is that not all headaches are the same.


Four Main Types of Headaches


There are four main types of headaches: Tension headaches, Cluster headaches, Sinus headaches and Migraine headaches.

  • Tension Headaches - Are the most common type of headache and vary from mild to moderate pain in your head. They can be located across your forehead, side of the head or the base of the neck. 

  • Sinus Headaches - Sinus headaches feel like you have an infection in your sinuses, with pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. The pain can feel worse when you bend or lie down, and you can also have a stuffy nose and achy feeling in your jaw.

  • Cluster Headaches - Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or cluster periods, and are really painful headaches, and tend to affect more men than women. They come on suddenly and are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, which can be located around your eye.

  • Migraine Headaches - One of the most talked-about types of headache, as it can cause throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually more dominant on one side of the head. There can be other symptoms as well, like nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

In Chinese Medicine, there are many areas we consider to determine where the imbalance is coming from. A couple of the main areas we ask about are location and quality of pain. In addition, we also look and ask about what is happening with your whole body to get the complete picture of where the disharmony is coming from.


Location of the Pain


The location of the pain is one of the first questions a practitioner will ask in regards to headaches, as it helps us determine what organ and/or channel could be involved in the disharmony in your body that is leading to the headache.


The main areas that you may feel the headache is coming from are:

  • Top of the head (Vertex)

  • Temples - one or both sides of the head

  • Eyes - behind or around them

  • Forehead

  • The base of the neck

  • Entire head










Quality of the Pain


Pain is generally regarded as a result of Qi and Blood stagnation or deficiency. When the normal flow of Qi and Blood is blocked or deficient discomfort or pain may be experienced.


Some common descriptions of the quality of pain for headaches are:

  • sharp stabbing pain (fixed location)

  • pain is like a band squeezing the head

  • distending sensation (heavy)

  • dull achy pain


Other signs or symptoms


To help confirm the pattern of disharmony after looking at the location and quality, some additional areas we also ask about are:

  • Sensitive to light

  • Clenching/grinding of teeth (night or all the time)

  • Jaw clicking/tightness

  • Facial pain and muscle stiffness

  • Ringing in the ear - tinnitus

  • Dizziness / Vertigo

  • Nausea / Vomiting from the pain

  • Neck pain - lack of mobility/stiffness

  • Numbness in the arm or hand


Once I have collected all the information I can then determine the specific disharmony in your body that is leading to the headaches, and then make a treatment plan with you to help reduce the pain you have headaches.


If you feel you have a certain type of headache consistently and would like help on treatment please contact me via email or call and I will be happy to help create a plan that is right for you!