We live in a stressful world. Life happens; it moves so fast. P
It’s hard to escape stress in today’s society so if you find that you are exhibiting physical symptoms of stress, it might be time to make some changes. If tension headaches are one of those symptoms, you’re in good company – about 90% of adults in the US have headaches. Many of them are tension headaches.
Symptoms of Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are distinctive and can be very painful. The good news is, they are rarely an indication of a more serious condition – other than a stressful lifestyle. Some of the most common symptoms of tension headaches include:
- Muscle tightness in the neck, jaw, and shoulders – may also be sore.
- A Headache that originates at the back of the head and moves forward over the top and sides.
- Sleep problems.
- Squeezing pain or dull pressure in the head may also be described as a tight band or vice around the head.
- Trouble eating.
- Pain or pressure on both sides of the head equally.
Sometimes tension headache symptoms can occur prior to a migraine. In other words, a tension headache can turn into a migraine headache and may be considered a migraine trigger.
Causes of Tension Headaches
The actual cause of tension headaches is not known. Researchers have some idea of potential triggers, but recent advancements in medicine have debunked the belief that they are caused by the tightening of muscles in the scalp, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Scientific tests show that then a person has a tension headache, muscle tension does not increase. Newer theories indicate that a likelier cause involves changes neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) which includes serotonin. This is similar to a migraine.
While researchers do not know the exact levels of neurotransmitter fluctuations, they do have evidence that it activates the brain’s pain pathways. The tightness in the muscles could be part of the physiological changes that trigger the fluctuations in neurotransmitters, or the neurotransmitter fluctuations could cause muscle tightness.
Some common triggers of tension headaches include:
- Clenching the jaw
- Alcohol or drugs
- Certain medications (even some medications for headaches which can cause rebound headaches)
- Keeping your head in one position for too long (like using a cell phone or computer)
- Grinding teeth
- Neck or head injury (even old injuries)
- Sleeping in a cold room or in an awkward position.
- Hormonal changes
- Sleeping on a worn-out mattress or the wrong pillow
- Skipping meals
- Eye strain
Certain foods can also be triggers for tension headaches. Additives and preservatives in prepared foods, even high sodium, can cause a headache.
Sinus and allergy problems can also accompany or lead to tension headaches.
Tension Headache Treatment
Over the counter and prescription medication may be recommended for tension headaches, but a good portion of the treatment involves lifestyle changes. Relaxation techniques, dietary changes, and exercise are all common treatments for tension headaches. Patients may be advised to stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption, or avoid certain foods.
Many patients find that keeping a headache journal is very useful in pinpointing triggers. There are several headache tracking apps that you can install on your smartphone and use them to get a better handle on your headaches.
Chiropractic for Tension Headaches
Chiropractic is a very effective, natural treatment for tension headaches. In addition to recommended lifestyle changes, the chiropractor may also make adjustments to realign the vertebrae and spine. The chiropractor may also use massage and other treatments that encourage relaxation of the muscles and relieve stress. He or she will use spinal manipulation of the neck and upper back to bring the body back into alignment, relieving not only the pain but the tension as well.
Chiropractic Migraine Treatment
The information herein on "How Chiropractic Helps Relieve Tension Headaches | El Paso, TX." is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.