5 Tips for Easing A Tension Headache
If you've ever had a headache that felt like a tight band was squeezing your head, you've experienced a tension headache. These are the most common types of headaches and have a prevalence between 30% to 78% in the general population. Tension headaches have been further broken down into either episodic or chronic.
Chronic Tension Headaches may occur daily and are associated with tension in neck and scalp muscles. Episodic Tension Headaches are typically associated with events that are stressful in nature. Whether you experience them chronically or episodically, some of the most common contributing factors to tension headaches include:
- Stressful events
- Working every day at a computer
- Prolonged video game or phone time
- Fatigue or hunger
- Night time teeth clenching or griding
- Sleeping on your stomach
If you're looking for drug free alternatives to treat your tension headaches, read on to find out 5 tips to easing a tension headache.
1. Reduce Stressors
Every day comes with its own set of stress whether at home or at work. Keeping your stress levels in check can help you avoid not only unnecessary tension headaches, but also long term side effects like high blood pressure, heart disease or depression.
Unfortunately stress is a part of life, but how you deal with it can impact your health and well being. Some easy techniques to reduce stress is to find time to meditate, take regular breathing breaks, decompress with massages or heat therapy, and exercise regularly.
2. Adjust Your Sleeping Position
Sleeping on your stomach may be great for easing snoring, but it's one of the least supported sleeping positions. Not only does it put pressure on the natural curve of your spine which can eventually lead to lower back pain, but sleeping on your stomach can also add neck strain from having your head turned all night. The additional neck strain can cause tightness and eventually lead to headaches. Sleeping with your neck in an neutral position can help you realign your neck and spine and relieve the pressure that may be causing your tension headaches.
3. Include Stretches & Exercises
The type of pressure and tightness you may be getting from sleeping on your stomach can be alleviated with massage or physical therapy. Stretches, exercise, and massages can go a long way to relax the neck, shoulders and back into neutral positions and free your body's mechanics. Try massaging your neck and shoulders with a massage therapy ball, a light behind the back stretch, and focus on breathing exercises. Low impact exercise like yoga are a perfect way to stretch, exercise and decompress for less tension headache recurrences.
4. Check Your Jaw
One of the most common reasons you may wake up with a headache is that you either clench or grind your teeth at night. Your temporomandibular joints (or TMJ for short) are located on either side of your jaw just in front of the ears and are responsible for allowing movement of your lower jaw for actions like chewing and talking. When your stress levels rise to cause you to grind or clench your teeth at night, your TMJ becomes very tender and tight causing tension headaches or similar symptoms.
5. Alternative Therapy
Since tension headaches stem from tight or tense muscles, alternative therapies like chiropractic care, massage and physiotherapy may help relieve the pressure in the trigger points that cause tension headaches. Misaligned spinal vertebrae, unnecessary tension or irritation of the neck and head may all be alleviated with chiropractic treatment. By assessing individual cases and working on triggers, professional therapy could help to reduce frequency, duration, and intensity of tension type headaches without the use of drugs.
If you've been suffering from tension headaches, contact Dr. Lanoue for an assessment to diagnose your triggers and design a tailored treatment plan for your specific needs. By using a combination of education, manipulation, mobilization, soft tissue therapy and exercises, Dr. Lanoue will find the right mix to take the pressure off your neck and spine.
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