Tips for Tension Headache Relief
Headaches are one of the most common complaints among Americans. Countless individuals miss work or school, miss out on fun activities, and even take trips to the doctor due to headaches. While some people experience chronic headaches which occur at least every two days on average, most people experience episodic headaches, which occur less frequently. Just as the types of headaches vary, the reasons for the headaches also vary.
What Are Tension Headaches?
While some individuals suffer from migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches, and more, the most common type of headache is a tension headache. Also called stress headaches, these may occur because of stress or anxiety, exhaustion or fatigue, hunger, jaw or dental problems, or bad posture. These types of headaches can last as little as thirty minutes or as long as several days. Sometimes they are simply like a dull ache while other times they result in a more severe pain and overwhelming pressure on your head, neck, jaw, and shoulders.
Tension Headache Symptoms
The most significant tension headache symptom is, of course, head pain. Tension headache pain tends to start at the back of the head or neck and works its way forward, and it is often described as intense pressure, as if a clamp or band was squeezing the entire skull. Tension headaches are not specific to a certain area of the head, but they tend to affect the whole head and both sides of the head equally. Tension headache symptoms go beyond just head pain, however. They typically affect the neck, shoulders, jaw, and even back sometimes, as they result in people tensing their muscles more and can lead to stiffness, soreness, and tightness in nearby muscles.
Other tension headache symptoms include trouble sleeping, feeling very tired and fatigued (even if you got enough sleep), trouble focusing, muscle aches, general irritability, and mild sensitivity to noise and light. Tension headaches generally begin later in the day and sometimes come about after a stressful event or in the midst of a stressful time in life. Other times, they may begin randomly, but doing your best to link the onset to a specific event will help in managing the pain and experiencing tension headache relief, both short- and long-term.
Who Is Most Likely to Suffer from Tension Headaches?
Almost everyone has probably had a tension headache in their lifetime, but there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to experience them, whether sporadically or chronically. Though tension headaches are not considered genetic, environmental factors are typically to blame, often resulting in couples or families experiencing them at the same times or in the same ways. Additionally, women are twice as likely to get tension headaches as men.
Emotional and mental stress are big contributing factors, so those who experience anxiety, depression, or other related issues may be more prone to tension headaches. Those who consume alcohol, large amounts of caffeine, and those with jaw or dental problems are also more likely to get tension headaches, as each of those factors can be attributed to causing these types of headaches.
How to Find Tension Headache Relief
No matter what the cause of your tension headaches, we know you want to experience freedom from the pain and frustration that they cause. The best way to find tension headache relief is to simply avoid the headache in the first place. While this is not possible every day for every person, it’s a good place to start. If you know what triggers most of your headaches, avoid those things if possible. Learn new ways to manage your stress and cope with stressful situations, such as staying active, getting a massage, practicing breathing techniques, and more. Also be sure that you’re getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, taking breaks from your work and allowing yourself time to rest, eating a well-balanced diet, and minimizing smoking and drinking.
If you visit your doctor for tension headache relief, he or she will likely recommend and over the counter medication to reduce your pain. These are effective for providing short-term relief, but they will not get to the root cause of the tension headache, and the medication will eventually wear off. If you prefer medicine to find tension headache relief, your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants, muscle relaxants, blood pressure medication, or anti-seizure medication. These are all thought to prevent tension headaches from occurring. Just bear in mind that, again, these will not fix the problem but rather cover it up, and they come with their fair share of risks and side effects.
Chiropractic Care for Tension Headache Relief
A natural, safe, and effective way of finding tension headache relief is with chiropractic care. Spinal health and muscle tightness in the back, neck, and shoulders are directly related to headaches of all kinds, and chiropractic care can reduce the frequency and severity of tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and more. Chiropractic care seeks to find and correct the root cause of any health concerns you’re facing, whether headaches or something more serious, which leads to long-term relief and actually correcting the problem rather than just covering it up.
When you have a misalignment in your spine, the vertebrae push on the spinal cord, interrupting blood flow, transfer of nutrients, and communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal misalignments also lead to unnecessary muscle tension and improper nervous system responses to outside stimuli, leading to more stress and anxiety, which in turn leads to more tension headaches. A chiropractor at NCHS will give you a gentle chiropractic adjustment that puts your vertebrae back in proper alignment, restoring proper brain-body communication and reducing muscle tension and tightness. This type of tension headache relief is natural and drug-free, and it is more likely to result in effective long-term relief of tension headache pain than almost any other form of treatment.