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Cluster Headache or Migraine: What's the Difference?

The Difference Between Migraines and Cluster Headaches

Migraine and cluster headache Lubbock TX

Physical pain, which can vary from mildly irritating to severely debilitating, is rarely a simple phenomenon. Multiple bodily systems contribute to the sensation and personal experience of pain, including musculoskeletal, neurological, and psychological components. This multifaceted nature of pain is especially true for people who suffer from chronic cluster headaches or migraines. 

Migraines and cluster headaches can respond positively to chiropractic care from our Lubbock TX chiropractor, Dr. Korey Kothmann, who has experience working with both unqiue conditions.  


According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly 1 in 4 American households is home to at least one person who experiences migraines. Unfortunately, a migraine is not simply a "bad headache." Migraines include several neurological symptoms, in addition to severe pain (typically on one side of the head). These migraine symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Heightened sensitivity to light and loud noises
  • Visual problems
  • Dizziness
  • Congestion
  • Numbness and tingling of the face and upper extremities

A migraine isn't always predictable, but can be triggered by external stimuli (such as bright lights, certain foods) or psychological issues such as stress. The biggest difference between migraines and other types of headaches is that a migraine is associated with, if not directly caused by, increased blood flow (vasodilation) within the head. Migraine symptoms can last from about 4 hours to 3 days. 

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, on the other hand, are much more rare, and tend to be shorter (lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours) but occur more frequently within one episodic period. An "episode" typically lasts anywhere for a few weeks to a few months, and can recur every 6-12 months. During an episode, a person may get one cluster headache a day, one every other day, or even multiple cluster headaches within one day. 

Like migraines, cluster headache pain is severe, and typically felt on one side of the head or behind one eye. Additional symptoms of cluster headaches include:

  • Eye redness and tearing
  • An unusually small-sized pupil 
  • Eyelid swelling or dropping
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Facial sweating

Cluster headaches are thought to be associated with dysfunction of the fifth cranial nerve, called the trigeminal nerve. 

One of the biggest differences between cluster headaches and migraines is that people experiencing cluster headaches tend to be restless, while a person with a migraine tends to want to lie down in a dark quiet place. Both types of headaches, however, can benefit from chiropractic care, which may include spinal adjustments to improve head and neck alignment and "reset" the pain signals being sent within the nervous system, and massage therapy to relax the body and relieve tension.

Looking For Relief From Your Migraines or Cluster Headaches? Visit Our Chiropractor In Lubbock TX

Dr. Korey Kothmann, leader of Lubbock Advanced Physical Medicine and in alliance with his flagship practice Kothmann Chiropractic & Rehab, has been recognized by local media as one of the best chiropractors in and around Lubbock TX.  Along with his team of integrated team of healthcare professionals, Dr. Kothmann provides innovative diagnostic and therapeutic pain management services, including chiropractic care and non-invasive physical medicine. If you've been suffering from cluster headaches or migraines and are looking for help, call our friendly staff today at (806) 791-3399 to schedule an appointment. 



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