Monday, June 21, 2010

Resolving Tension Headaches Part 1

Approximately 90 percent of headaches originate as tension headaches. Medical experts continue to debate over the causes of tension headaches. In my opinion, 90% of tension headaches are either caused by mechanical factors or are perpetuated by them. In other words, most ongoing, chronic, tension headaches can be attributed to specific physical restrictions. These are restrictions in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues which cause nerve impingement syndromes, vascular changes, and the output of biochemical substances that affect pain centres. Photo from BodyWorlds exhibit Edmonton Alberta (Special Permission granted).

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Tension headaches usually last from half-an-hour to an hour but they can continue to return for weeks, and in chronic cases, last for years. People who suffer from tension headaches often describe their headache as a dull ache, or they may experience them as a band of tightness around the sides of their head. This band may even feel like a vice compressing their skull. In severe cases the pain may even feel like a hooded cape that drapes over and across the shoulders. Obviously in such severe cases more than just the head is involved in creating the pain syndrome.
The following is a list of some of the common symptoms of tension headaches:
  • Band like pressure around the head.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Fatigue and irritability.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Neck, jaw/TMJ, or shoulder discomfort.
  • Severe pain behind the eyes.
  • Tenderness of the scalp.

Muscle pain in the head: overlap between temporomandibular disorders and tension-type headaches. Svensson P. Curr Opin Neurol. 2007 Jun;20(3):320-5. Department of Clinical Oral Physiology, School of Dentistry, University of Aarhus, Denmark.

You can usually differentiate a tension headache from other types of headaches because there are many symptoms you will not experience. For example, tension headaches do not cause visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, numbness on one side the body, or slurred speech.

Triggers for Tension headaches

Tension headaches are triggered by numerous causes. Some of the potential triggers include:
  • Anxiety (including several medications used for reducing anxiety).
  • Arthritis
  • Clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism).
  • Dental Work.
  • Depression (including medications used for depression).
  • Holding one position for a long time, or working in awkward positions.
  • Inflammation of the neck or shoulders.
  • Lack of sleep or insomnia.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Overuse of headache medication (3rd most common cause of headaches).
  • Poor posture.
  • Stress.
  • Trauma.
  • Whiplash injuries (hyper-extension hyper-flexion injury)

In Part two of Resolving Tension Headaches we will cover causes of tension headaches.

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1 comment:

  1. Headaches can be mean.they take away happiness from your normal life.Though you may have everything not being ale to enjoy due to severe and sudden headache attacks.necessary to find cures and also find ways to deal with the same.
    sinus surgery Los Angeles