What To Do About Your Tension Headaches

Headaches making it difficult to concentrate at work? Tired and aching neck from too many hours at the computer? Sick of taking pain killers but don’t know what to do about it? Wanting to do something about it?

Headaches come in various forms. The most common types of these are tension headaches.  The World Health Organisation reports that around 7 million Australians are likely to have tension headaches.  As the name suggests, tension headaches result from tension or tightness in the muscles around the head and neck. They present in numerous different ways or in various combinations of each of these presenting complaints:

  • Dull, persistent pain that can greatly vary in intensity
  • Usually felt around the head and neck on both sides
  • Can be sharp, stabbing pain in the head
  • Feeling of a constant tight or heavy band around the head
  • Tightness and tenderness in the scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
  • Restriction of neck and shoulder movements
  • Trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea

So what can I do about it? Just like there are numerous presenting complaints, there are also numerous ways to help deal with a tension headache.

–          Take over-the-counter or even prescription medication.

Taking medication for pain relief is a well-known “cure”.  Sometimes this can be enough to resolve your symptoms. But be careful, long-term medication use can cause liver damage.  If you have taken medication for over a week, either consult your doctor or seek treatment from a qualified health care practitioner like an Osteopath.

–          Adjust your working habits and setup your workstation correctly.

Being in the same posture for extended periods of time can lead to muscle overload and fatigue. This leads to increased tension through your shoulders, upper back and of course your neck. Make sure you download our ergonomic workstation setup guide at the bottom of the page.

–          Take time away from stressors in your life.

Life can be stressful. Stress increases tension throughout your body –  the precursor of tension headaches. So take time out to do something you enjoy or even take a holiday.  Alternatively practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises & meditation.

–          Get a good quality sleep.

A good night’s sleep can help relieve anxiety, stress and fatigue – three big factors in tension headaches. Aim for 8 hours sleep every night.

–          Perform exercise regularly.

Physical exercise helps release tension and stress within your body whilst also releasing Endorphins – your happy chemicals. Just 30 minutes of walking three times a week should be enough to keep your headaches at bay.

–          Drink water.

Poor hydration can cause muscle tightness throughout your body. Make sure you stay well hydrated. Remember that if you feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated.

–          Apply hot/cold packs to your forehead.

The use of heat or cold can help ease the muscle tension around the head and neck.

–          Gentle self-massage to your forehead, temporals and the back of your neck.

These areas are the common areas of tightness that contribute to tension headaches. Massage helps improve blood flow, reduce stress and increase joint mobility and flexibility. Of course this goes a long way to decreasing the severity of tension headaches.

–          Perform our “6 simple exercises to relieve your tension headaches” daily (Download here).

These 6 exercises are designed to help improve your posture, increase mobility of your upper back and reduce tension throughout your neck.

If you still are not getting any relief or want more advice, see your Sports & Spinal Albury Osteopath.

Our Osteopaths love treating people with headaches. It’s what we are great at.  With targeted treatment of muscle tension and joint restrictions in the neck and upper back, along with helpful advice on things such as posture and ergonomics, we may just be able to help rid you of those nasty tension headaches. To make an appointment, either call us on 02 6021 1975 or you can book online.

-  Dr Vaughan Saunders

B Sc (Clin Sc) M Hlth Sc (Osteo)