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What is a tension headache?

Posted by Cameron on December 14, 2017

What is a tension headache?

Tension headaches cause millions of Australian’s pain and suffering every year. But what exactly are they & what causes them? Tension headaches are caused by tightening of the muscles in the upper back, neck and head. It is the most common of all the various headache types. Some studies have shown they actually account for up to 90% of all headaches  & affect slightly more women than men.

How do tight muscles cause a tension headache?
Trigger points! Many muscles of the neck, jaw & shoulders can refer pain directly into your head. This means the pain in the  problem area (the headache) is actually referred pain from a muscle.

What causes the muscle tightness?
There are 2 major causes of muscle tightness relating to tension headaches – poor posture & stress, in many cases a combination!

What are the symptoms of a tension headache?
There are a number of symptoms associated with tension headaches, somebody suffering may have as little as one or many of these symptoms:

  • Dull constant pain, usually varying in intensity from mild to moderate and sometimes severe. Usually just above the eyes, over the temple, on the side of the head or at the back/ base of the skull
  • Constant, tight, heavy or pressing sensation over or around the head. Sometimes described as a vice like feeling
  • Tightness & tenderness around scalp (yes you have muscles in your head), neck & shoulder muscles
  • Neck movement restricted by muscular stiffness & discomfort
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Mild – moderate sensitivity to light & noise
  • Nausea
  • Trouble concentrating & difficulty sleeping
  • Depression & anxiety

What is the best form of treatment?

While pain killers may be helpful in relieving the initial pain, they don’t help to fix the cause (they are only symptoms relief!).The best form of treatment for tension headaches is manual treatment & corrective exercise. We can help with both!

Manual treatment helps to relieve these sore tight muscles causing the head ache. It will also help to improve posture, helping to fix the issue at one of it’s major causes. Not only is manual treatment good in relieving tension headaches, it is also very effective in prevention & stress relief.

Corrective exercises prescribed by health professionals help to relieve & prevent tension headaches in a number of ways. Specific stretching exercises loosen tight hypertonic muscles that are causing pain & help to promote good posture. Strengthening exercises aimed at improving posture help to prevent tension headaches from occurring. They are also very effective form of stress release as is cardio exercise such as running, cycling, & swimming.

Tension headaches would be close to the most common condition I treat in the clinic. If you are suffering or you know somebody else who is call for an appointment ASAP!

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