Tension Headaches account for approximately 90- 92% of all headaches, making this the most common type. Muscular tension in the neck, scalp, and jaw are generally the root causes of these headaches, but they are usually triggered by environmental or internal stresses. Poor posture, inadequate rest, anxiety, fatigue, hunger, overexertion, and stress are just a few examples of how life can lead to a tension headache.
A typical tension headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire week! If your headaches occur for 15 or more days a month for 3 consecutive months, your headaches may be considered chronic daily tension headaches and you should speak to your doctor. If they occur less than 15 days a month, your headaches are considered episodic tension headaches and you should focus on ways to manage you stress, decrease your muscle tension and relax.
So what can you do at home to treat a headache? Have a hot bath or place a hot pad on the affected muscles, try diaphragmatic breathing, self massage to tense muscles or ask someone to massage them for you, or pain free stretching and range of motion can help to decrease muscle tension. Holding an ice pack against your forehead while soaking your feet in hot water may stop a migraine, this should be done at onset.
Massage Therapy can relieve headache-producing tension in the muscles of your head, neck, shoulders, and face. Massage therapy can be effective during a headache to help you relax, decrease pain, and treat any hypertonicity or trigger points that may be present in the muscles of your neck, shoulders and head. Treatment during a headache is generally a lighter, more general massage, as opposed to treatment between headaches which is more vigorous, the pressure may be deeper, and trigger points are treated more aggressively. It is important to remember that regular massage therapy treatments will be more effective at treating and preventing headaches than one single treatment as muscle tension dose not magically disappear. Combining massage therapy treatments with regular exercise, stress reduction, healthy eating and restful sleep will make a big difference in the quantity and severity of your headaches.
If your headache is resulting from a misalignment of the vertebrae in your neck or upper back, which in turn causes tension and irritation of the muscles in your neck and shoulders, a Chiropractic treatment may be able to remove the strain through spinal manipulation and realignment. It can be very beneficial to combine chiropractic treatment with massage therapy as they will work together to alleviate the strain and tension.
There are some things that you can do to decrease you chances of having a tension headache or prevent them altogether. A little self care can go a long way.
· Avoid your headache triggers -try keeping track of your headaches in a journal or calendar, this will let you see any patterns and triggers
· Get enough Sleep -adults need 7-8 hours per night (some people need more), as well try to be routine with what time you go to bed and wake up
· Reduce Stress -get organized, simplify your life and schedule, plan ahead, stay positive
· Relax -try meditation and or yoga, listen to soothing music, soak in a hot bath, go for a massage
· Regular Exercise -exercise helps to decrease stress and is good for your physical and mental wellbeing
· Don't skip meals
· Avoid any food or drinks that trigger headaches
Take a deep breath, there is a light at the end of your suffering, all you have to do is take action.
It is important to seek medical attention if: a severe headache is accompanied by vomiting, limb weakness, double vision, slurred speech, or difficulty in swallowing; your headache is of a kind you’ve never had, occurs first thing in the morning, is persistent, brings on vomiting, you have a high fever, light hurts your eyes, the pain is severe and is accompanied by nausea and a stiff neck; or if after a head injury, you are drowsy, with dizziness, vertigo, nausea, or vomiting.