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Headache locations and their meanings: Headache Location Meaning and Treatment

Types of Headaches & Headache Location Chart

I can picture it now. You’re sitting there late at night breaking out into a cold sweat, heart racing, convincing yourself a brain tumor is the cause of your headache as you are Googling a variety of terms for your headache location meaning such as…


temple headache, headache behind eye, headache behind eyes, headache on top of head, headache in the temples, headache back of head, headache in front of head, headache on one side, front of head headache, headache on right side, headache on left side, headache in temple, headache forehead, pain behind eye, headache behind the eyes, headache and nausea, pain behind eyes, headache on left side of head, headache on right side of head, headache in back of head,


front head headache, headache temple, headache at the front of head, stomach upset, left side headache, right side headache, headache behind right eye, temples headache, headache behind left eye, nausea and headache, pain in head, sharp pain in head, neck pain and headache, constant headache, head pressure, ice-pick headache, headache front, pressure headache, sex headache, exertion headache, cough headache, right temple headache, left temple headache,


throbbing headache, headache meaning location, frontal headache, types of headaches diagram, headache types chart, pounding headache, headache locations chart, headaches in eyes, pain top of head, headache above left eye, headache map, headache above right eye, etc…


Ok, I think you get the point. Sound familiar? Now that you’ve earned your honorary Doctor Google degree, let me help provide some direction for your headache self-research to determine types of headaches and location, areas of headaches, and headache location meaning.

But let me tell you a BIG secret…


Headaches are not diagnosed based only on their location. They are diagnosed by the “company they keep”. In other words, the characteristics, patterns, and associated symptoms that go with the headache are the most important pieces of information to narrow down the most likely headache types. Headache location by itself without any other information is actually quite useless.


The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD3) classifies every headache type according to the headache and all of the associated features. Each headache type must match a specific set of characteristics and associated symptoms set forth in the criteria. Headache location is only one of many features taken into account.


By combining the headache location with associated symptoms, patterns, and characteristics of the pain, it can then be more accurately narrowed down. This makes choosing the correct treatment more accurate and effective. This is absolutely key.


The end result is that you are on a more effective path to improvement rather than throwing “headache” pills randomly at a headache that hasn’t given a specific name. Thus, the treatment being used may not be the treatment that your specific type of headache needs (and sometimes it can even make it worse). I see this scenario in my headache clinic every day given the shortage of headache specialists. This is why I created a FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker.


Let’s take migraine as just one example. Migraine can vary widely in its location between patients and between attacks within the same patient. Any one of those Googled headache location terms listed at the top could potentially represent migraine. Those locations could also represent many other specific types of headaches as well. Many of those other headache types would require a different type of treatment or evaluation than migraine would.


The headache location doesn’t fully match with migraine until you combine it with the required criteria of associated symptoms that make the migraine diagnosis. These other symptoms include things such as nausea, sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), throbbing or pounding pain, moderate to severe pain intensity, worsening with exercise, one sided predominance, and of course ruling out other more concerning “secondary” causes of the headaches.


So clearly, Googling the headache location alone doesn’t help you figure out the cause or type of the headache at all, nor the most effective treatment. The bottom line is that location of pain alone doesn’t narrow down the type of headache or facial pain that you have. The associated symptoms and patterns that go with the headache are the keys to deciphering between the possible headache types.


Thus, I created a FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker. The purpose is to help and provide you with more personalized self-research with a list of possible headache types. This list can be discussed with your doctor. My hope is to help you and your doctor have a more useful discussion of possible headache types to think about, as well as better treatment considerations.


Remember, any type of headache and facial pain requires an office visit and physical examination with your doctor. There is no way around this requirement. This symptom checker tool is purely educational to provoke thinking of a variety of headache possibilities. However, bad causes of headache can present as mild and simple headache disorders such as migraine. So, a visit to your doctor to evaluate your headache is a mandatory step that you must do.


When you are trying to narrow down the type of headache or facial pain you may have, the following characteristics and symptoms must be taken into consideration. These are the key questions a headache specialist will ask you in the office. Go through the following list of headache features and symptoms, think about each one, and write down your responses.


If you have different types of headaches, it is important to focus on and think about only one type at a time (even though they are typically different manifestations of the same underlying headache disorder).


1) Location of pain.

As mentioned above, pain location is only one of many important characteristics of a headache disorder. Without factoring in the associated symptoms, patterns, and characteristics, it is quite useless alone. I have broken down 8 general patterns of headache and facial pain locations to choose from. Go through the following headache location charts and pick the one that is most consistent with your headache or facial pain location.


These are screenshots from the first step of the headache and facial pain symptom checker tool. There may be some variation to your attacks and the location may vary between different attacks, so pick the one which summarizes the areas involved most commonly for the particular type of headache you are analyzing.


Forehead, Cheek, Temporal (not variable)

  • The headache is 100% always on 1 side only.
  • It never alternates between 1 side and the other side.
  • It never involves both sides of the head at the same time.


Forehead, Cheek, Temporal (variable)

  • The headache is variable in location.
  • It may alternate between 1 side or the other side of the head at different times.
  • It may commonly occur more often on 1 side or the other, however, it is not 100% always on the same side.
  • It may sometimes involve both sides of the head at the same time as well.



  • Beneath the angle of the lower jaw, back of the throat or tonsils, back/base of the tongue, inside ear, or deep in the ear.


Parietal-Occipital (not variable)

  • The headache is 100% always on 1 side ONLY.
  • It NEVER alternates between 1 side and the other side.
  • It NEVER involves both sides of the head at the same time.


Parietal-Occipital (variable)

  • The headache is variable in location.
  • It may alternate between 1 side or the other side at different times.
  • It may commonly occur more often on 1 side or the other. However, it is not 100% always on the same side.
  • It may sometimes involve both sides of the head at the same time as well.


Whole Side of Head (not variable) (Forehead, Cheek, Temporo-Parietal-Occipital)

  • The headache is 100% always on 1 side only.
  • It never alternates between 1 side and the other side.
  • It never involves both sides of the head at the same time.


Whole Side of Head (variable) ((Forehead, Cheek, Temporo-Parietal-Occipital)

  • The headache is variable in location.
  • It may alternate between 1 side or the other side at different times.
  • It may commonly occur more often on 1 side or the other. However, it is not always on the same side. 
  • It may sometimes involve both sides of the head at the same time as well.


Whole Head (not variable) (Forehead, Cheek, Temporo-Parietal-Occipital On Both Sides At the Same Time) 

  • The headache is never on 1 side only. It always involves the whole head on both sides at the same time. 


2) Frequency of the headache or facial pain attacks.

How often do the attacks of headache of facial pain occur? Once per day and several days per month, 8 different attacks per day, etc.? Is there a pattern to the attacks, such as a seasonal occurrence?


3) Duration of the headache or facial pain attacks.

When you get an attack of headache or facial pain, how long does each individual attack last until it goes away completely if it is untreated or unsuccessfully treated? 30 minutes, greater than 4 hours, 15 minutes, several days, etc.?


4)Description and characterization of the headache or facial pain.

How would you describe the pain of the headache or facial pain if you had to put it into words? Throbbing, pounding, pulsating, achy, excruciating, pressure, electrical, shock, burning, sharp, stabbing, ice pick stabbing, etc.?


5) Associated neurological symptoms.

Is the headache associated with visual disturbances such as lost vision, flashing lights, shapes, zig-zags, colors, wavy lines, kaleidoscope, jagged edges, etc.? Is there numbness or tingling in an area of the body associated with a headache attack such as on one side of the face and body? Is there weakness on one side of the body with the headache? Are there problems speaking or getting words out with a headache attack?


6) Additional symptoms.

Is your stomach upset or do you feel nauseated or sick to your stomach with a headache attack? Do you vomit? Do you feel sensitive to bright light and/or loud sound when the headache is at its worst (where you would prefer to be in a dark quiet area if you had the chance)?


Does an eye turn red or tear excessively during a headache attack? Does your nose run or get congested on one side during a headache attack? Does your eyelid droop on one side or does it get puffy around an eye on one side with a headache attack?


When you are done going through and thinking about all of these headache characteristics, patterns, and associated symptoms, take a run through this FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker. This will give you a list of possible headache types to consider, and treatments to discuss with your doctor. From that list, you will be directed to the most common and effective treatments for you and your doctor to consider together. These vary widely depending on the specific type of headache.


For example, for migraine there are a wide variety of effective treatments for aborting (taking something “as needed” to stop) a migraine attack including triptansgepants (Ubrelvy, Nurtec), ditans (Reyvow), and neuromodulatory devices, If the frequency of attacks is high, there are many effective  preventive migraine treatments consisting of medications, CGRP monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments (Aimovig, Ajovy, Emgality, Vyepti), gepantsBotox, natural supplements, herbals and vitaminsneuromodulatory devices, yoga and meditation, acupuncture, acupressure and pressure points.


Good luck! I hope this tool leads you in a better direction of more educational and effective discussions with your doctor regarding possible headache types and more effective treatment considerations.


Do me a HUGE favor and if you have found this headache symptom checker tool helpful and it led to a more successful outcome of narrowing down your headache types and treatments when you saw your doctor, PLEASE let me know and drop me a message here or on Twitter!!






Headache Location Meanings & Headache Anatomy: What the Location of Your Headache Can Tell You | Blog

Headache Location Meanings & Headache Anatomy: What the Location of Your Headache Can Tell You

Headaches are one of the most commonly faced ailments by a majority of the world. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of adults have experienced a headache at some point in their lives. Though quite a common problem, headaches also happen to be symptoms of underlying diseases and can be important in the diagnosis of these conditions. Another integral aspect of headaches is their location, headache location meanings are essential in understanding the type of headache and determining its cause. 

You need to remain educated about the location types of headaches as they can be instrumental in determining potentially serious conditions. In this article, we detail what different headaches mean, the differences between migraine vs. headache, and also provide a ‘types of headaches’ chart to highlight their most salient features. 

What are The Different Types of Headaches?

Though there are nearly 150 identified forms of headaches, they can be broadly classified under two categories: 

  • Primary Headache: These are the types of headaches that are not caused by any underlying medical condition. Primary headaches can be caused by factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, hunger, alcohol, exhaustion, or a psychosomatic response. The most prevalent types of primary headaches are: 
    • Tension headaches 
    • Migraines 
    • Episodic headaches 
    • Chronic headaches 
    • Cluster headaches 
    • Chronic daily/New daily persistent headaches 
  • Secondary Headaches: These headaches are often the result of underlying medical conditions. Headaches are symptoms of these conditions and understanding the headache location meanings can help diagnose their causative disease. The most common types of secondary headaches observed are: 
    • Hypertension headaches 
    • Traumatic headaches 
    • Allergy-related/Sinusitis headaches
    • Hormone-related headaches 
    • Infection-associated headaches 
    • Medication overuse headaches 
    • Caffeine headaches 
    • Exertion/ Exercise-associated headaches

Headache Types & Their Features

Here are some of the most common headaches and what they entail: 

  • Primary Headaches
    • Tension Headaches: 
      • A dull aching sensation that takes over the entire head or a band around the head, and results in tenderness and sensitivity over the neck.  
      • Tension headaches are caused by a psychosomatic response and are also called psychosomatic headaches. 
      • The pain can radiate to the neck and the adjoining areas of the shoulders; regions most commonly associated with stress. 
      • Over-the-counter painkillers can help, however, when tension headaches are a regular occurrence or take up a chronic form, a detailed medical examination is the best course of action. 
    • Migraines
      • Migraines are characterized by a pulsating pain on one side of the head, often arising from deep within. 
      • They severely limit your ability to perform basic tasks as the pain is severe, throbbing, and can last between a few hours to several days.  
      • A prominent difference between a migraine vs. headache is that the former can cause a severe sensitivity to light and sound. 
      • People suffering from migraines report seeing flashing auras, lights, stars, and even blind spots in their visual field. 
      • Due to certain similarities, people also tend to get confused between the characteristics of a COVID-19 headache vs. migraine. 
      • While COVID-19 headaches too tend to have a pulsatile nature, they tend to occur on both sides of the head, while migraines occur only on one side. 
    • Episodic Headaches
      • Episodic headaches last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.  
      • Episodic headaches occur regularly. 
    • Chronic headaches
      • Unlike episodic headaches, chronic headaches are more consistent and occur over a longer period. 
      • They can even last for several days at a time and require a systematic treatment approach to manage the pain and other symptoms associated with these headaches. 
    • Cluster Headaches
      • Cluster headaches occur in only one side of the head and are often felt within the eye socket. 
      • The pain is described as burning & piercing, and the affected side can even become slightly swollen and red.  
      • Tears from the affected eye socket and nasal congestion on the same side are also notable features of cluster headaches. 
      • These are episodic, and each episode lasts between a few minutes up to a couple of hours. Patients commonly report up to four episodes a day.
    • Chronic Daily Headaches
      • These headaches are seen in people that have no prior history of other headache-related conditions. 
      • Chronic daily headaches have a sudden onset and can last for nearly three months, before being resolved. This is followed by a symptom-free period. 
      • It occurs on both sides of the head and does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication.  
  • Secondary Headaches
    • Hypertension headaches 
      • These headaches indicate dangerously high blood pressure levels. 
      • The pain is pulsatile and worsens with activity. 
      • It’s important to visit a doctor immediately if you have a history of high blood pressure and suffer from a severe, uncontrollable headache on both sides of your head. 
    • Traumatic Headaches
      • These headaches occur following a severe head injury and can last for up to a year after the trauma. 
      • Their locations and implications are similar to those of tension headaches and migraines.  
    • Allergy/Sinusitis Headaches
      • These headaches are the result of an allergic reaction, or may occur due to full sinuses. 
      • The pain is focused around the sinus areas on the face. 
      • Patients often report symptoms like pressure in the forehead and make statements like, ‘When I cough, my head hurts.’ These are common indicators of a sinusitis headache. 
      • Nasal decongestant sprays are often helpful in relieving these headaches by clearing out the mucus in the sinuses. 
    • Hormone-related Headaches
      • These headaches are reported in women.  
      • Several patients get confused when it comes to symptoms of migraine vs. headache, especially when suffering from this type of condition. 
      • Given that both migraines and hormone headaches are more prevalent in women and have similar symptoms, these headaches are also called menstrual migraines. 
      • They can occur because of pregnancy, menstruation, and even due to birth control pills altering hormone levels. 
  • Substance-associated Headaches
    • Substances such as caffeine, certain medications, and other stimulants can affect the rate of blood flow to the brain. 
    • The sudden increase or decrease in the rate of the consumption of these substances can cause headaches.  
    • Quitting these substances cold-turkey can also result in similar conditions. The best solution to rid oneself of these pains is by tapering off the quantity of the substance gradually. 
  • Infection-related Headaches
    • These headaches arise from infections of the head and neck. 
    • A stiff neck associated with a headache warrants immediate medical attention. 
    • Infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, and space infections of the face can lead to severe and radiating headaches. These are serious conditions that need to be addressed in a hospital. 
    • Viral infections like influenza can also cause headaches that are centred around the forehead and the sinus regions.  
    • If you experience a runny nose, weakness and headache, you will need an influenza test to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Exertion/ Exercise-related Headaches
    • Headaches can be caused by an increased rate of blood flow to the head. 
    • Exertion headaches are caused by intense bouts of physical exercise such as weight lifting, running, or strength training. 

Types of Headaches Chart

Below are listed common headache location meanings, so you know where to look the next time you encounter an episode. 

Headache LocationType(s) of HeadacheManagement

The entire head

Substance-associated headache, exertion headaches, hunger, tension headache, traumatic headache, and fatigue.  

Visit the doctor if the pain is too severe or if episodes occur more than 5 times a month. 

One side of the head Migraine, hormone-related headachesAvoid triggers and certain OTC painkillers. However, sustained migraine episodes require pain management therapy.
One side of the head and around the eye socket Cluster headacheMedical consultation followed by pain management.
A band around the headTension headacheOver-the-counter painkillers and relaxation techniques.
Face and the front portion of the headAllergy/Sinus-related headachesAntihistamines and nasal decongestants can address pain caused by allergies and sinusitis.
Back of the head and neckPsychosomatic headaches, arthritis-associated headaches Medical assessment and management.

Be sure to keep track of your symptoms and don’t forget to refer to the above chart when in doubt. If you suffer from episodic headaches that occur more than 15 times in a single month, it is likely that the condition has developed into a chronic one. Take note of the intensity and don’t forget to contact your doctor immediately if a headache is unbearable.

Treatment of headaches in the medical center “Clinic ABC”

Headache is more dangerous than people think!

Headache is a very common complaint that is not taken seriously by many people. It is important to recognize that ignoring a headache is extremely short-sighted, as it can be a symptom of a disease that tends to progress and impair quality of life.

Finding the cause of the headache

Diagnosis requires:

  • examination by a neurologist;
  • electroencephalography;
  • measurement of intracranial pressure with a slit lamp;
  • ultrasound scan of the vessels of the head and neck.

The most common diseases that cause headache include pathologies of the cervical spine, arteries of the neck and head, chronic inflammation of the maxillary sinuses, brain tumors. Also, injuries and unsuccessful neurosurgical operations often lead to headaches.

Types and locations of headaches

Pain that is localized in the occipital region, has a pressing dull character, may occur due to spasm of the muscles of the head and neck. This condition is provoked by prolonged stress, and can also serve as a sign of vegetovascular dystonia. Muscle tension can lead to compression of the occipital nerve. This condition, if left untreated, tends to worsen over time, causing pain and tension to increase.

Pain that is localized in the neck and radiates to the head (to the temporal region, to the eyes) may indicate osteochondrosis or an inflammatory process in the cervical vertebrae or sinuses.

Long-term neglect of the disease can lead to spasm of cerebral vessels, which complicates the process of oxygen and nutrients supply. Possible consequences: deterioration of hearing, vision, sleep disturbance, sexual weakness, headache, dizziness.

If the pain is evenly felt throughout the head, there is reason to assume increased intracranial pressure. This condition is characterized by an excess of cerebrospinal fluid that fills the cavities of the brain.

Without proper treatment, hearing impairment, fatigue, memory impairment are observed.

Throbbing pain that is migratory (temporal, eye) is migraine. The disease is considered rare and poorly understood. One of the versions of its pathogenesis is inflammation of the sinuses or cervical spine, in which the cerebral arteries are irritated, which leads to their sharp narrowing and expansion.

Migraine can lead to depression, brain function is not impaired.

Treatment of headaches

Before prescribing therapy, the doctor must find out the cause of the headache. Depending on the pathology, methods are used:

  • acupuncture;
  • conservative treatment;
  • surgery;
  • psychotherapy.

In case of repeated attacks of headache, contact the specialists of the ABC Clinic, who will competently make a diagnosis and prescribe effective treatment.

Living without a headache is pleasant, useful and achievable.

Primary source medical center “ABC Clinic”

Headache – the main diagnostic methods and the benefits of MRI

Headache, sleep disturbance, reduced level of performance of functional duties – common complaints of people of working age. A visit to the doctor should not be postponed, since such symptoms indicate diseases of various etiologies, including vascular damage, homeostasis disorders, and mental disorders.

Types of cephalalgia

If you have a headache, examinations are prescribed after a physical and neurological examination, as well as the results of laboratory and instrumental screenings. Most patients have primary forms — migraine and tension headache (EH). In other cases, “secondary” cephalgia is diagnosed, which are associated or appear due to systemic diseases. GB classification? is a multi-level list, however, the most common forms of cephalgia can be distinguished:

  • vascular;
  • muscle tension;
  • neuralgic;
  • psychological;
  • mixed;
  • cluster;
  • temporal arteritis;
  • paroxysmal hemicrania;
  • Pain caused by infection and injury.

Very often, headaches are caused by a combination of pathogenetic factors, in some cases, standard headache tests do not reveal the causes of poor health.

Basic diagnostic methods

What tests are prescribed for headaches? An atypical clinic, suspicion of a tumor or other morphological changes require a comprehensive MRI of the brain, as well as various types of ultrasound examinations, CT, angiography. In some situations, it may be necessary to consult narrow specialists: an ophthalmologist, an otolaryngologist, a dentist, a vascular surgeon.

Taking into account the multifactorial causes of GB? diagnostic measures are aimed at differentiation and exclusion of serious organic disorders: tumors, traumatic injuries, disorders of cerebral circulation, infectious and inflammatory processes. An important role is played by the detailing of complaints, the identification of trigger factors and heredity.

Comprehensive MRI of the brain – what does it show?

The technique includes the study of all structures: the ventricular system, the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum, the trunk, the pituitary gland. For headaches, complex MRI is performed in three projections, while the slice thickness is no more than 5 mm. In a native examination, brain structures are displayed in sagittal, axial and transverse projections.

The pituitary gland, temporal lobes, and other small structures require close examination using coronal planes with cuts no greater than 3 mm. If necessary, magnetic resonance imaging with a contrast agent is performed. The technique allows to visualize with high accuracy the locations and boundaries of the pathological focus, to assess the prevalence of the process. Indications for the diagnostic procedure are suspicions of the following diseases:

  • anatomical anomalies of the structure of the brain;
  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • traumatic brain injury;
  • ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke;
  • tumors and cysts;
  • intracranial hypertension.

The images clearly visualize zones of ischemia, deformities of the pituitary gland, violations of the boundaries of white and gray matter, small focal hemorrhages, hyperplastic nerve endings.

Preparation and basic principles of diagnostics

The examination technology is based on the principles of magnetism and the phenomenon of resonant absorption of electromagnetic waves in a constant field of high intensity. The tomograph provides a stable position of charged particles and registers magnetic waves emanating from the patient’s body. All data is recorded and subjected to computer processing, after which the picture is visualized and displayed on the monitor.

If the head hurts, the examination is carried out without prior preparation, because early diagnosis plays a crucial role in emergency cases. Immediately before the procedure, the patient must remove all metal accessories, including clothing with fittings made of similar materials.

An exception is the complex MRI of the brain with the introduction of a contrast agent, which is not prescribed for patients with impaired renal function. A relative contraindication is pregnancy, chronic diseases in the acute stage.