Tension headaches are very common. In fact, some statistics show they are the most common kind of headache. In general, tension headaches cause feelings of dull pressure or tightness on both sides of the head, the top of the head, and down into the neck. The pain may ebb and flow, and the headache may last a little as 30 minutes or up to several days. Headaches may occur daily or infrequently.
There are two primary classifications of tension headaches: chronic and episodic. Chronic tension headaches occur more than half the days of the month. Episodic tension headaches occur less than half the days of the month. Both types include the additional symptoms of poor concentration, sensitivity, irritability, muscles aches and pains, fatigue, and sleep problems.
IDENTIFYING A TENSION HEADACHE
Tension headaches yield a consistent, not throbbing, ache impacting both sides of the head. Pain can also occur in the neck or the back of head and radiate to the front of the skull. Tension headaches generally come on slowly, and pain is mild to moderate, not usually severe. Pain during a tension headache has been described as feeling like a vice around the head.
TREATING TENSION HEADACHES
It is critically important to have a proper diagnosis for your headaches to make sure the most effective treatment is used. A tension headache caused by stress will respond much better to a massage, for example, than a migraine caused by food sensitivity. You can help your chiropractor correctly diagnose the source of your headaches by keeping track of the details each time a headache occurs. Here are some things you might record:
- When do your headaches occur?
- How long do they last?
- Do your headaches follow specific activities?
- Where does the pain originate—the temples, the back or your head, your neck?
- What kind of pain do you experience—throbbing, burning, aching?
- Have you experienced emotional changes or irritability?
- Are your headaches made worse with movement?
- Have you had changes in your routine or an increase of stress?
CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR TENSION HEADACHES
Muscle tension and stress are the usual suspects when it comes to tension headaches. Muscle contractions in the neck and head put pressure on nerve endings and can cause soreness. Stress is the most common cause of tension headaches.
Tension headaches can also be caused by neck problems such as incorrect curvature of the cervical spine. If your cervical spine is curved less than is normal or even curves the wrong way (perhaps as the result of injury), you may be at risk for tension headaches. Headaches caused by neck problems are often triggered by outside sources, such as bending over a computer all day long.
- Chiropractic Adjustment. If tension headaches are caused by poor cervical spine alignment, the best treatment is chiropractic adjustment or spinal decompression performed by a licensed chiropractor. Pinnacle Chiropractic’s Dr. Casselman is adept at correcting the alignment of the spine, and doing so can correct the problem so that you are no longer plagued with tension headaches. Chiropractic adjustment is a holistic way to sustain lasting wellness.
- Biofeedback Training. Biofeedback training is a type of learned relaxation. Instruments measure the body’s response to a headache trigger, such as muscle tension. Over time, patients can learn to identify when they are tense before it becomes a problem and modify their response to the tension, reducing the headache’s severity or duration or even preventing it from occurring at all.
- Massage. Massage can be used in conjunction with chiropractic adjustment to assuage pain in the temples and neck. Massage can help to relieve pressure caused by taut muscles.
If you struggle with frequent tension headaches, let Pinnacle Chiropractic & Spinal Rehab Center of Highlands Ranch start you on your journey to relief. Give us a call to set up an appointment.