Ever feel a painful sensation like a tight band around your head? Does it ever feel like your head is in a vice? Do you feel a lot of pressure behind your eyes or where your head meets your neck?
The tension headache primarily affects the muscles of the neck and scalp, and these can occur for years. Usually, these headaches get worse in times of high stress when the muscles tighten even more. Muscles and the surrounding tissues send pain signals to your brain when they don’t have an opportunity to relax. Over 20% of the population experiences headaches, but very few know how to get them to stay away for good.
Before we can talk about tension headache relief, we need to know what is causing the problem.
Our posture has been deteriorating as a society with the increase of smartphones and desk work. When you spend majority of your day looking at a screen with a poor posture, it creates changes to your spine and causes a host of problems. Think how many hours you spend looking at a computer screen or down at your phone or tablet. What is the posture of your neck when you continuously hold this position? Between each vertebra in your neck are spinal nerves, and when these get “pinched” or compressed they send pain signals. These pain signals cause the muscles to tighten down and protect the injured nerve, which then causes pain, which leads to inflammation, which causes compression, which leads to pain, which leads to inflammation, which causes compression…
Can you see the cycle the compressed nerves cause?
While this pattern causes neck pain, it will also cause headaches. Check out this article about what your neck pain may be trying to tell you.
Tension headaches are closely related to cervicogenic headaches (“cervico” meaning neck, and “genic” meaning origin or translated as originating from the neck). The muscles of the neck tighten and create a band of tension at the base of the skull that travels to your temples or behind your eyes. This vice-like pressure is where tension headaches get their name. Despite more knowledge about what causes tension headaches and even migraines, headaches go undertreated and underdiagnosed.
Here are the best ways to relieve tension headaches:
Stress is one of the main causes for tension headaches to get worse. By focusing on meditation at least 20 minutes a day, you can reduce the severity of tension headaches. This can also be a calm activity such as listening to soft music or reading positive books. What is NOT considered meditation is watching the news before going to sleep. As an added benefit, taking the time to meditate over lunch helps your re-prioritize your day and make the second half of your day more productive.
Tension headaches have been treated with acupuncture for 5,000 years with great results. Different skin points are used to release endorphins, your body’s natural pain killer. Specific acupuncture points also reduce muscle tension, are used for stress relief, and improve blood flow. Modern acupuncturists use electrical acupuncture to treat tension headaches.
Because the muscles are involved with tension headaches, massage therapy can help tense muscles relax. Hands-on therapy is one of the best methods for pain relief and stress relief. Excess stress makes it difficult for muscles to relax fully, but a good massage therapist can help reset muscles back to their normal tone.
90% of tension headaches involve the neck with misaligned vertebra. Injuries, posture, and even stress can cause the spine to go “out of whack”. The misalignment of the neck puts a lot of pressure on the spinal nerves, and is often the original cause of the tension headaches. Chiropractors use specific, gentle adjustments to the vertebra to gradually relieve pressure from the nerve and allow the muscles and nerves to normalize. This is how chiropractors get results for sufferers from tension headaches and migraine headaches.
We get amazing results with our headache patients thanks to our gentle chiropractic care. It is the most comfortable way to receive chiropractic.