You can learn a lot about a headache based on the symptoms that come with it and the location of the source of your pain. Headaches aren’t uncommon. Nearly 50 to 75% of adults experience some sort of headache per year. However, chronic headaches (15 or more per month) only affect between 1.7 to 4% of adults. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, you’re likely looking for a solution. Learn more about the location of headaches and how this can help you find a headache treatment that works.

young woman sitting on the side of her bed, suffering from a headache

Entire Head

When a headache affects your entire head, it can feel like someone is squeezing your entire head like a bottle of ketchup. Headaches that affect your entire head are usually tension headaches, which are also the most common type of headaches.

A tension headache may extend to your neck and tenderness and pain might feel worse on your forehead. Muscle contractions in the neck and head are usually the cause of tension headaches and can cause pain that lasts for several days.

A lot of factors can cause tension headaches including:

  • Stress
  • Neck problems
  • Hunger
  • Hangover
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Physical exertion
  • Fatigue
  • Cold or flu
  • Eyestrain
  • Head trauma
  • Rebound headache from too much headache medicine

In most cases, a tension headache does not require medical attention. If you experience more than 15 headaches per month though, we recommend seeing a physician.

One Side of Your Head

When headache pain is limited to one side of your head, this is usually a strong indication that your headache is either a migraine or a cluster headache.


Migraines are usually accompanied by other symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Throbbing, pulsating pain
  • Vomiting
  • Aura
  • Light, noise, and odor sensitivities
  • Difficulty focusing

A number of factors can contribute to migraine including:

  • Decrease in serotonin levels
  • Bright, flashing lights
  • Specific odors
  • Certain foods
  • Loud sounds
  • Weather changes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • TMJ disorder

Triggers can vary from person to person. If you regularly experience migraines, try to write down everything you ate, did, and smelled and look for connections between different migraines.

Cluster Headache

If you have a headache on one side of your head, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a migraine. It can also be a cluster headache. A cluster headache is a type of headache that causes pain on only one side of the head. Typically, cluster headaches cause pain behind one of the eyes and it spreads to the forehead, neck, shoulders, nose, and side of the head. The pain usually occurs in cycles or clusters. Cluster headaches usually come on fast, last for ten minutes, and then enter a remission period until they occur again.

Cluster headaches have symptoms such as:

  • Drooping eyelid
  • Red, teary eye
  • Stabbing, burning pain behind the eye
  • Puffiness behind one or more eyes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Facial flushing
  • Feeling restless

If you suspect that you have cluster headaches, an accurate diagnosis and the right medication can help.

Front of Head or Face

Headaches that occur in the face or front of the head typically occur behind the eyes and nasal passages. These are related to allergies, hay fever, or sinus headache. If the headache is only behind the eyes, it is likely directly related to eyestrain. The best way to treat headaches in the front of the head or the front of the face is by identifying and treating sinus problems. If it’s related to eyestrain, visiting an eye doctor is the best first step to finding relief.

Back of Head

The last location you might experience a headache is in the back of the head. Headaches in the back of the head are usually related to arthritis in the neck, poor posture, or herniated disc. If the headache involves pain in the back of the head as well as the neck, it’s possible it’s caused by spontaneous intracranial hypotension from low spinal fluid pressure in the brain. If pain worsens when you stand, sit upright, sneeze or cough, strain, or engage in physical activity, these are signs that your headache is from spontaneous intracranial hypotension. We encourage you to seek medical attention.

Headache Treatment in St. Louis

If you suffer from frequent headaches and you haven’t found a treatment that works, you might have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is a disorder that affects the jaw joints. When the joints become imbalanced, it causes the muscles to compensate for the imbalance by correcting themselves. This can lead to muscle strain that causes facial pain as well as headaches. TMJ disorders can also cause jaw pain, worn teeth, clicking and popping when opening and closing the mouth, and ear pain.

When Dr. Hill provides you with TMJ treatment, it will help relax the jaw joints and allow them to rest at their most optimal position. With treatment, the painful symptoms, including frequent headaches and migraines will go away.

If you’re looking for headache treatment in St. Louis, consider booking a consultation at Smile On Dental Studio in Clayton to learn if TMD is the cause. Please call (314) 678-7876 to get started.