Headache Program

Types of Headache

Vascular headaches
These include “cluster” headaches, which cause repeated episodes of intense pain, and headaches resulting from high blood pressure, and toxic headache produced by fever.

Muscle contraction headaches
Appear to involve the tightening or tensing of facial and neck muscles.

Traction and inflammatory headaches
Symptoms of other disorders, ranging from stroke to sinus infection.

Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious disorders. This is particularly true for headaches caused by inflammation, including those related to meningitis as well as those resulting from diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears, and teeth.

Migraine Headache

The most common type of primary headache (not caused by another medical condition) is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach and, at times, disturbed vision. Women are more likely than men to have migraine headaches. Migraine headaches may last a day or more and can strike as often as several times a week or as rarely as once every few years.

Not all headaches are the same and each may require different treatment options. Your provider may decide to treat your migraine with a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block (SPGB). Learn more about this option for migraine care.


Headache Treatment

When headaches occur three or more times a month, preventive treatment is usually recommended. Drug therapy, biofeedback training, stress reduction, and elimination of certain foods from the diet are the most common methods of preventing and controlling migraine and other vascular headaches. Regular exercise, such as swimming or vigorous walking, can also reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.  Drug therapy for migraine is often combined with biofeedback and relaxation training.

Not all headaches require medical attention. But some types of headache are signals of more serious disorders and call for prompt medical care. These include:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Sudden headache associated with a stiff neck
  • Headaches associated with fever, convulsions, or accompanied by confusion or loss of consciousness
  • Headaches following a blow to the head, or associated with pain in the eye or ear
  • Persistent headache in a person who was previously headache free
  • Recurring headache in children

(Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

How May We Help You?

Headache Program Specialists

Lihong Shen, MD, PhD

Sergiu Besliu, MD


  • Headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system
  • It has been estimated that almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year
  • Headache disorders, which are characterized by recurrent headache, are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life, and financial cost
  • Worldwide, a minority of people with headache disorders are diagnosed appropriately by a health-care provider
  • Headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world
    (Source: World Health Organization)