Did you know that the location of your headache can actually tell you quite a lot about it? Taking note of your headache’s location can help you pinpoint exactly what caused it and therefore how best to treat it.

If you’re searching for the right treatment for your headaches, learn more about headache locations and what they mean.

woman suffering from a migraine headache

Headaches on Your Entire Head

If you’re experiencing a headache that causes pain in your entire head, it likely feels like someone’s placed a tight band around your head. This type of headache is usually a tension headache, which is also the most common type of headache. Tension headaches may extend their pain all the way to your neck with some tenderness around the forehead. Tension headaches are typically caused by muscle contractions in the neck and head. They may last for several hours and can sometimes linger for several days.

Although tension headaches are usually caused by stress or neck issues, several other factors can contribute to all-over headaches such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Hangover
  • Physical exertion
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Cold or flu
  • Head trauma
  • Too much headache medicine
  • Eyestrain

Most tension headaches don’t require medical attention. However, if you experience more than 15 per year, you should definitely visit your doctor.

Headaches on One Side of Your Head

Headaches limited to one side of your head can indicate two different types of headaches.


If you experience a headache that limits itself to one side of your head, this usually indicates that it’s a migraine. Migraines are a primary headache disorder and they usually cause recurrent attacks. If you’re suffering from a migraine, the one-sided pain will usually be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Noise, odor, and light sensitivity
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Pulsating, throbbing pain
  • Aura

A number of factors can cause migraines including changes in brain chemicals like a decrease in serotonin. Additionally, the following factors can trigger migraines:

  • Specific odors
  • Certain foods
  • TMJ disorder
  • Loud sounds
  • Flashing, bright lights
  • Changes in weather
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals

Migraine triggers will vary from person to person and in some cases, it can be a combination of factors that cause them. Identifying triggers is not always possible.

Cluster Headaches

Headaches on one side of your head can also be a sign of cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are usually located around or behind one eye and may spread to the nose, neck, side of your head, forehead, and shoulders on the same side of your body. In addition, cluster headaches typically come in cycles and usually happen several times over a period of time and then have a remission period before the cycle begins again. Cluster headaches usually have severe pain after just 10 minutes of starting.

If you’re suffering from a cluster headache, you may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Red, teary eye
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Puffiness around or under one or both eyes
  • Facial flushing
  • Feeling restless
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Small constricted pupil

If you think you might suffer from cluster headaches, talk to your doctor about finding a treatment.

Front of Your Head and Face

Another common headache location is at the front of your head and face. These types of headaches are usually located behind the nasal passages and eyes and are due to nasal problems such as allergies, hay fever, cold, or sinus infection. Sinus infections are actually quite rare and in most cases, they’re actually migraines. The two often get confused because migraines can cause pain over the sinuses.

If your headache is behind your eyes, this also might be eyestrain.

If you think your headaches are related to sinus problems, please book an appointment with your doctor to seek a diagnosis.

Back of Your Head

The last location you might experience headaches is at the back of your head. These types of headaches might be related to arthritis in the neck, poor posture, or neck problems including herniated discs.

If your headache is accompanied by neck pain, it might indicate that you have a low-pressure headache which is caused by low spinal fluid pressure in the brain. This condition is known as spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH). With SIH, the pain often feels better when you lie down but can become worse when you stand, sit up, cough, sneeze, engage in physical activity, or strain yourself. SIH headaches can happen from a lumbar puncture. If you think you’re having this type of headache, please seek medical attention immediately.

Get Headache and Migraine Treatment in Columbia, SC

If you’ve tried dozens of headache treatments and nothing has worked, you might have TMJ. At Smile Columbia Dentistry, Dr. Adam Hahn can provide you with TMJ treatment to help rebalance your jaw joints and prevent strained muscles in your face that cause headaches and migraines. If you suffer from TMJ, you will likely also experience one or more of the following symptoms:

If you think you have TMJ, please contact Smile Columbia at (803) 781-9090 to book an appointment. Once Dr. Hahn creates the right TMJ treatment plan for you, your headaches will begin to subside and be gone for good!