Headaches are extremely common. Most adults suffer from them at some point in their lives. One type of headache that many people suffer from is a tension headache. These headaches take place due to physical tension along the spine (often due to poor posture) or due to mental tension brought on by stress. Regardless of the reason you have them, they are not any fun. If you suffer from them, here are some tips you can try to alleviate your tension headache pain.
From work stress to relationship burdens and other challenges we face in life, tension headaches can pop up out of nowhere. Add in other factors like repetitive activities or bad posture and you have a formula for a tension headache to possibly appear. Common activities that contribute to tension headaches include:
- Driving for several hours without breaks
- Looking down at a phone or computer for prolonged periods of time
- Playing video games for several hours
- Clenching the jaw (during sleep or during the day)
- Sleeping on your stomach
These activities can lead to overstrain on the back of the neck, leading to muscle weakness and increasing the risk of the development of a tension headache. Using muscles too frequently that might lead to pain and often spasms is another cause of these nasty headaches.
Chronic and Episodic Tension Headaches
With tension headaches, the pain often begins in the neck and shoulders and slowly makes its way up the base of the skull. It then makes its way around the head. Tension headaches can be broken down into two different categories: chronic and episodic.
Chronic tension headaches happen frequently – sometimes every day. They may happen when you wake up or after a long day at work. The scalp and neck muscles often remain contracted with this type of headache. Tightness and pain commonly develops on both sides of the head in addition to on the forehead and at the base of the skull.
Episodic tension headaches are often connected to stressful events. They come on quickly and are quite painful. The pain may resolve as the stressful event passes or if over the counter medicine is administered.
Tips for Managing a Tension Headache
Try the following to manage tension headaches:
- Reduce stress: Look for steps to lessen or evade a stressful event.
- Adjust your sleeping position: Sleep on your side or back rather than your stomach. Try to keep your spine in a neutral position. A body pillow may help.
- Take breaks: If your work requires you to stay in one position for long periods of time (at a desk, on a phone, driving a vehicle), take some breaks. Spend less time glancing down at your phone or computer. Get up every once in a while and walk around.
- Go to the dentist: Jaw-clenching that causes tension headaches can be linked with a dental issue, known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. A mouth guard may help.
- Stretching and Exercising: Stretch out the muscles in your neck and shoulders with gentle stretching. Regular, low-impact exercise may also help.
- Consider Drug-free Treatments: You may be able to experience headache relief by pursuing chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture or physical therapy.
When Your Pain Persists
If you cannot seem to get your tension headaches to stay at bay, try Brookhaven, GA chiropractic care. A chiropractor may be able to help with spinal manipulation for better function of the spine, while easing stress on the body. Your chiropractor can also give guidance on proper posture, sleep positions, exercises you can do to relieve tension and more. Chiropractors know how spinal tension relates to issues in other areas of the body and they are equipped with knowledge and the ability to take actions to resolve such problems.