Do you have the symptoms of Tension Headache?
Tension headaches are an extremely common and unfortunate part of life. Research estimates that 80-90% of people will experience headaches at some point in their life. In our facility, head pain continues to be one of the most common medical ailments in day-to-day practice.
Many patients suffering from tension headaches describe similar experiences and share a combination of one or more of the following symptoms:
• Band of pain surrounding and creating a “tightening” feeling around your head
• Concentration of pain intensity often in and around the forehead, but also extends to the back of the head and neck
• Pain typically described as a “dull, tight, achy pain.”
• Irritating enough to reach for an OTC medication or to take a time out to lay down and take a nap
• Not debilitating enough where you are unable to function and get through your day
Due to the fact that there are over 150 different types of headaches on record, it is crucial to determine which specific type of head pain you may be suffering from, so that effective treatment can be rendered.
Which Type of Tension Headache Do You Have?:
Of all the headache types, tension headaches are the most common. When diagnosed with a tension headache, your doctor should further determine if you have episodic tension headaches or chronic tension headaches. Distinguishing between the two is important in terms of the treatment approach taken to relieve your pain.
Think back over the last month. Did you experience less than 15 tension headaches? If so, then your tension headaches would be considered episodic. Episodic tension headaches typically come on gradually and then can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days. If this doesn’t sound like you, then you may be suffering from chronic tension headaches
If you experienced more than 15 tension headaches throughout the last month, then your tension headaches would be considered chronic. Chronic tension headaches may increase or decrease in terms of their intensity of pain, but what’s worse is they often stick around, lurking in the background of your day-to-day life – like an annoying song you can’t stop humming. About 3% of people have chronic headaches, which can be extremely frustrating and debilitating, seeing as they can last for months on end. If you want to work with myself and get to the root cause of your tension headaches, book your intro consult today at The Chicago Chiropractor in Lincoln Park, Chicago:
What’s Causing your Tension Headaches?
At this point in time, the underlying cause of your tension headaches have not been definitely identified. Although this may be the case, research continues to point to all forms of “stress” as the main culprit. With that said, its important for your doctor to rule in or out the various forms of stress that could be causing your tension headaches.
Stress comes in a variety of forms: physical stress, mental/emotional stress, environmental stress, chemical/internal stress, etc. A trained clinician with experience in treating headaches will know the appropriate testing and evaluation standards required to properly identify the underlying cause of your tension headaches. The most common causes for tension headache include:
• Intensely bright light
• Blood Sugar Imbalances
• Hormonal Imbalances
• Job-related stress
• Over-exertion during physical activity
• Postural imbalances
• Poor sleeping habits
• Much more…
3 Steps to Get Rid of your Tension Headaches:
Address the mental/emotional stressors of your life. Some things are out of our control. When you encounter these types of stressors, the best method is to allow the feelings to flow and then to let them go. Internalization of mental/emotional stress is one of the worst things you can do for your health.
When you encounter mental/emotional stressors that are out of your control or do not improve using foundational measures such as meditation, breathing exercises, and other positive activities – seek a licensed therapist. At first glance, having a therapist on your health care team may not seem directly related to your pain. However, they will play an integral role in reducing your overall mental/emotional stress and therefore your tension headaches.
Take control of what you eat. This of course at first sounds oversimplified, but realize most people walking around are dehydrated and suffering from blood sugar imbalances. Of course when it comes to nutrition, there are more specific and individualized nutritional recommendations that should be made for each patient. However improving upon your hydration status and balancing blood sugar is of paramount importance when attempting to relieve tension headaches.
When it comes to hydration, choose water as much as possible and try to drink ½ your body weight in ounces/day. This is recommendation can change based on types of foods consumed and levels of physical activity, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s a good starting point. For blood sugar balancing, there are multiple ways to maintain a healthy level, some of which include:
• Eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day
• Always eat breakfast within 30-60 minutes of waking
• Include a protein, fat & complex carbohydrate with every meal
Get moving. We were not made to sit on the couch, sit in the car, sit in the office chair and then back to sitting on the couch. Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity and addressing any postural imbalance you may have will play important roles in reducing your frequency and intensity of tension headaches.
Seeking the help of a trained professional, such as a Chiropractor who specializes in improving posture and can create a safe and effective therapeutic exercise program is crucial. The last thing you want to do is start initiating a physical exercise program and get injured – you would be surprised how often this occurs! Build the basics first with the right guidance and then consider getting fancy.
When To See Your Doctor:
In most cases, headaches are annoying but harmless. In some cases, however, headaches can indicate a serious medical condition, such as aneurysm, brain trauma, or tumor. If you experience any of these symptoms, head to the emergency room:
• A sudden and severe headache
• A headache after a head injury
• A headache accompanied with any of the following: confusion, double vision, numbness, seizure, stiffness in the head and neck, weakness
• Slurred speech
For all other types of headaches and associated symptoms, it doesn’t hurt to visit a trained professional who will provide a comprehensive evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your head pain and render effective, non-invasive and safe treatment.
If you want to work with myself and get to the root cause of your tension headaches, book your intro consult today at The Chicago Chiropractor in Lincoln Park, Chicago: