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Different symptoms between migraines and tension headaches

In case you missed it, the VA recently updated their ratings for headaches. Whether you suffer from tension headaches or you are more on the severe end with recurring migraines – you might be entitled to VA disability benefits. But what constitutes a tension headache versus a migraine? How do you know if you have none, one, or both?

The best course of action is getting a proper medical evaluation (we can help!). At MRPY Professional Services, we work with an independent physician who is experienced with VA disability service-connection documentation. They can provide an evaluation for your medical conditions – which is helpful for both you and your claim.

Until then, start by reviewing these common symptoms of migraine and tension headaches:

Symptoms of migraine headaches:

Distinct head pain

  • Unlike regular headaches, migraines involve moderate to severe throbbing pain that is typically on one side of the head.

Nausea and throwing up

  • Unfortunately, the intensity of migraines can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting in their most severe form.

Sensory sensitivity

  • Light sensitivity (photophobia) and sound sensitivity (phonophobia) are both common symptoms of a migraine.


  • In some cases, people will experience "aura" before or during a migraine – which means visual disturbances. This can involve blind spots or flashes of light.

Symptoms of tension headaches:

Distinct head pain

  • The head pain during a tension headache is usually mild to moderate, causing a steady ache. This typically occurs on both sides of the head.

Tenderness in the neck and shoulders

  • The body responds to headaches by tensing muscles, which can lead to soreness and tenderness in these areas.

Remember, everyone is different

Although these are the most common symptoms for migraine and tension headaches, each individual may encounter a different experience. If you're struggling from frequent and severe headaches, the best course of action is to consult a medical professional.

Do you need to file a VA disability benefits claim for migraine or tension headaches?

At MRPY Professional Services, we work with clients to provide Nexus Letters, DBQs, chart reviews, and other medical documentation from experts. Ready to start? Consider signing up for a chart review or explore our other services here. Instead of navigating this process on your own, you can collaborate with our skilled medical experts to secure precisely what you need.

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