Situation: A tension headache is the most common form of headache and usually described as a diffuse pain wrapping from the top of the neck and around the head. The pain is usually mild to moderate in intensity.
Causes: The exact cause of a tension headache is not fully understood. What is known, though, is that nerves and brain chemicals are involved. Misalignment of the spine, jaw pain, whiplash injury, disc degeneration, poor posture, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition are among the potential triggers for a tension headache.
Symptoms: Symptoms include neck and shoulder stiffness, dull throbbing head discomfort, and pressure over the sides and back of your head. Tension headaches can last from a half hour to several days in duration. Differentiating tension headaches from migraines can be challenging. Generally, unlike migraine sufferers, a patient suffering from a tension headache will not have visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
Treatment: While prescription and over-the-counter drugs can relieve the symptoms of tension headaches by masking the pain,the most effective treatment is a nondrug and healthy habits approach. Since there is general agreement that nerves and neurological disorders contribute to tension headaches . . . and, since your chiropractor is your health care professional trained to diagnose and remove neurologic interference from a misalignment of the spine . . . many tension headache sufferers have turned to their chiropractor in recent years for successful treatment. Acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy and nutrition may also be utilized in treatment.