5 Ways to Ease Your Tension Headaches

5 Ways to Ease Your Tension Headaches

Headaches are extremely common in the U.S., with around 41 million people complaining about some form of the illness annually. The most common form is a tension headache, which can start as early as nine years old and affects up to 69 percent of men and 88 percent of women at some point in their lives. The pain can be great enough to keep people from working or performing other everyday functions.

There are several ways to treat tension headaches, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, but there are things you can do to ease this pain without them. To explore the non medication methods for treating tension headaches, let’s look at the causes of these headaches, the types you may be dealing with, and the treatment methods available.

People in the Washington, DC area looking for relief from tension headaches can find help with the team of physical therapists at Sports Therapy And Rehabilitation LLC

Causes of tension headaches

Tension headaches are idiopathic, meaning the cause is not known or entirely understood. Some experts suggest the root of the problem may be linked to stress or a strong emotional response that causes muscle contractions in the face, neck, and scalp, though not all researchers agree on this hypothesis. Other possibilities include high sensitivity to pain, which leads to increased muscle tenderness.

Triggers of tension headaches include eye strain, temporomandibular disorders (problems affecting your jaw), sleeping problems, bruxism (teeth grinding), dry eyes, smoking, colds, flu, sinusitis, caffeine, poor posture, dehydration, and skipping meals.

Types of tension headaches

Your type of tension headache will depend on the frequency and number of headaches you have. They are broken down as either episodic or chronic. Episodic tension headaches happen less than 15 days out of the month and can last from 30 minutes to as long as a week. If they happen frequently enough they can become chronic. Episodic tension headaches are more common.

Chronic tension headaches that happen for longer than 15 days a month for more than three months in a row. This type can last for hours and can even be continuous. Fortunately, this type of headache only affects about three percent of U.S. adults.

Non medical methods of treatment

Here are some ways to address the pain associated with tension headaches:

1. Stretching and exercise

This can be used to massage out or stretch neck and shoulder muscles that may be contributing to your headaches. Therapy canes or therapy balls can be used to help work those muscles. Walking, swimming, running and cycling are exercises you can do to release chemicals in your body to block pain signals as well.

2. Adjust your sleeping habits

Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help to reduce stress and reduce tension headaches, so trying to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day is a step in the right direction. When sleeping, try to maintain a neutral neck posture by positioning yourself on your back or your side with a body pillow.

3. Take breaks

This is an important part of general self care, and can be achieved in a few different ways. When working on anything for a long period of time, taking time to break is important. This can simply mean taking a quick walk, getting in a few stretches, or even basic yoga. Don’t work yourself so hard that you’re causing stress.

4. Apply ice or heat

Ice or heat can help to reduce inflammation in muscles, which can help to relieve pain. Items such as heating pads, hot water bottles, a warm compress, hot towel, cold pads, ice pack, or a towel wrapped over ice can help manage your pain.

5. Physical therapy

This is where we come in, with a variety of physical therapies to reduce tension in your neck, shoulder, and back muscles to relieve tension headaches. We also offer therapeutic massage to handle a variety of conditions, including headaches and fibromyalgia. 

Various methods of treating tension headaches can be combined as needed to help reduce pain. So if you’re dealing with tension headaches and need relief, make an appointment with the physical therapists at Sports Therapy And Rehabilitation LLC today to get started.

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