Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches and they can be effectively treated. In fact, tension headaches are one of the most common conditions that bring patients into our clinic looking for treatment and relief. Tension headaches can be very impactful in a patient’s day-to-day life, affecting concentration, productivity, sleep, and mental health.
What is a tension headache?
Frequently, a patient will come in and report that the mild to moderate pain starts at the base of the skull and wraps around the ear like a question mark or a tight headband, with pressure in the temples or behind the eyes. Tension headaches do not usually have visual disturbances such as spots or auras or nausea and vomiting.
The most important duty we have as health providers is to conduct a thorough history and physical exam in order to rule out any other more serious causes of headaches and to diagnose tension headaches accurately. We will appropriately refer to other healthcare providers if we feel the patient requires any other testing, laboratory tests, or diagnostic imaging. Once we have determined that the patient is in fact presenting with tension headaches, we proceed with deciding which treatment option is best suited for the individual.
What treatment options are available for tension headaches?
When we assess the patient and there is muscular tension at the base of the skull, into the neck, or into the upper shoulders, applying pressure can recreate the pain. This suggests that the most likely cause of the headache is muscular. If by challenging joints and creating movement in the spine we can recreate the pain, it is likely a biomechanical problem. We assess posture and ask questions about their work duties and ergonomics, leisure activities, sleep positions, and pillows, all of which could be contributing factors to the presence and severity of tension headaches.
Chiropractic care can include gentle low-force techniques and traditional manual adjustments in order to address any spinal misalignments that are contributing to tension headaches. Massage therapy can address the muscular tension and trigger points associated with tension headaches. Acupuncture can be helpful on a variety of levels, from decreasing inflammation and swelling to stimulating muscular relaxation as well as releasing endorphins for pain relief. Oftentimes, if a patient is living a very stressful lifestyle, acupuncture is recommended in order to calm the nervous system and allow the body to restore and heal. Registered cosmetic injectors can also provide Botox injections in the more challenging and chronic cases.
Once the patient has decided on the treatment they are most comfortable receiving, our care doesn’t end there. We provide our patients with comprehensive care that includes home-based exercises and stretches, nutritional recommendations as well as ergonomic and postural suggestions. As symptoms and concerns change, our approach and recommendations will evolve to meet the patient where their needs dictate.
At Complete Wellness Clinic, we are passionate about our patients and helping them not only experience relief from their tension headaches but also support them in finding complete wellness.