By: Dr. Jaclyn West Corcoran
Most people have experienced a headache at some point in their life, but some deal with daily headache pain. While people experience many different types of headaches, the three most common are migraines, tension, and cluster headaches. This article focuses on tension headaches, which makes up about 90% of all headaches.
A tension headache is frequently described as a sensation of tightening or pressure. It can vary in frequency from once per month to once per day. Common locations for tension head pain are the forehead, temple area and/or coming up the back of the head and toward the eye. The pain may be located more on one side than the other but can be on both sides of the head.
Tension headaches may be confused with migraines because the pain can become so intense that it causes nausea, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and sensitivity to light and or sound.
Advil and other over the counter pain medication may be helpful at reducing the pain but inevitably the headache will return. An increase in frequency may be seen during stressful times, such as the holidays.
Tension headaches generally respond well to hands on therapies such as chiropractic and massage. These headaches are frequently caused by muscular pain referral from tight and sore muscles in the neck and upper back. Through a detailed history and thorough exam, the muscle to blame can usually be found and worked on, which will decrease the frequency of the headaches.
Children can also experience tension headaches with similar symptoms as an adult. The heavy backpacks they carry and the amount of time spent looking down at schoolwork or computer games can cause added stress in their necks. It is important to ask your child if they experience headaches.