Stress comes in many ways, there is physical stress, chemical, and emotional.
Any of these stresses can result in us holding tension throughout our neck resulting in tension-related headaches. Luckily you don’t have to live with these as there is a solution that you can do to help reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches.
A lot of patients don’t realize this but there are lots of different Classifications of headaches and a lot of them share similarities so if you are unsure of the headache you are experiencing, your first step should be consulting with your local chiropractor as treatments vary depending on the variation of your headache.
Learning about tension headaches is important as they are very common in adults and most adults experience them within their lifetime. A great way to tell if you suffer from tension headaches is most of the time you feel it on both sides of your head or neck, and it will feel as if your head is really tight or almost filled with pressure like something needs to be released.
They can vary in intensity but a great tell-tale sign is that they are not enhanced by physical activity. In some severe cases, I have found patients to experience blurred vision nausea, and Sensitivity to light. This can send patients down the wrong trail thinking that they are experiencing a migraine headache.
What Causes A Tension Headache?
Occasionally people suffer from tension headaches after a long day of work and notice it towards the end of work or on their drive home the reason for this is the muscles around your put pressure on the nerves exiting the area local to these muscles and they then drive pain to another area, typically my frontal bone just above the eyebrows.
A lot of stress is held in the lower neck and due to the long-term or constant contractions of these muscles when we are at work, this leads to the common tension headache.
Patients that I see coming in with tension headaches often notice that when their posture has been poor lately the headache frequency increases. This is due to altered body mechanics that create these muscular imbalances meaning some muscles are working harder than they should that then lead to the result of nerve compression and headache.
What To Do?
If you are experiencing these headaches right now hot and cold therapy is a great option in reducing symptoms but understand that it is not likely to cure the underlying problem. Using heat at the back of your neck for 15 minutes either by a heat pack or warm shower can help to relax the tight muscles and nerves creating these headaches.
5-10 minutes of cold therapy also works to decrease any inflammation that could be putting pressure on the nerves surrounding your neck. Be sure to use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to prevent any direct skin contact which could create any blisters or burns to the area.
If you’re noticing an increase in the frequency of your headaches tries to identify the lifestyle factor causing this increase. You might have to think a little outside of the box such as family stress, finances, work posture, or even poor diet. Lack of water in your daily diet can be a big reason for these headaches.
If you struggle to drink water a handy tip is to buy a reusable water bottle and carry it around with you wherever you go. Having water always on you is a great reminder to yourself to increase your water intake. As a rough idea, males are supposed to drink around 3.7 liters of water per day whereas women roughly around 2.7 liters.
Try to address the underlying issue yourself and if you notice no change, consulting with your local chiropractor often results in a dramatic reduction of your pain and other symptoms.
On top of chiropractic adjustments for headaches, helping with relief from these headaches stretching your chin down to your chest, holding your hands on the top of your head, and gently pulling your head downwards can reduce the tightness in those surrounding neck muscles. Performing this a few times per day holding for 20 to 30 seconds is something I find helps me and my patients in reducing these headaches. It’s easy to do and it doesn’t take much time out of your day.