Tension headaches are the most prevalent types of headaches, occurring more often in women than in men. Research shows that 48 percent of women and 38 percent of men suffer from tension headaches.
Each year, patients spend more than $2 billion on over the counter headache medications. In fact, people spend a lot of money and effort seeking remedies for headaches. From prescription medication to over the counter drugs to alternative headache treatments like meditation, acupuncture, and chiropractic.
In fact, chiropractic is a proven treatment for tension headaches, but there is more to it than just adjustments. Chiropractic offers a whole body approach to treatment that can not only relieve the pain of tension headaches, but help prevent them as well.
What are Tension Headaches?
The most common type of headache is the tension headache which is described as pain ranging from mild to moderate that feels like a tight band is wrapped around the head. While stress can be a factor in the cause of these headaches, it still isn’t well understood how these headaches originate. Symptoms of a tension headache include:
- Aching, dull pain in the head
- Sensation of pressure or tightness on the back and sides of the head or across the forehead
- Tenderness in the shoulder muscles, neck, and scalp
There are two categories of tension headaches: chronic and episodic. There are two primary factors that identify each type. The length of the headache and the frequency can help you determine which type of tension headache you have.
- Chronic Tension Headaches
- Length of Headache – hours and can be continuous
- Frequency of Headache – occur 15 days or more a month for three or more months
- Episodic Tension Headaches
- Length of Headache – half hour to a week
- Frequency of Headache – occur less than 15 days a month for three or more months
There are two primary risk factors for tension headaches:
- Women – Research shows that nearly 90 percent of women will experience tension headaches throughout the course of their life. Only 70 percent of men will experience tension headaches in their lifetime.
- Middle Age – Tension headaches increase as people approach 40 and peak at middle age, or when a person is in their 40s. However, anyone can get a tension headache, regardless of age.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Tension Headaches
A chiropractor can treat tension headaches through traditional spinal manipulation and adjustments, but they also provide advice on lifestyle and nutrition. Several things that your chiropractor may suggest include applying heat or ice to the area around your neck, shoulders, or head. A warm bath or shower may also help.
Stress management is another way that you can learn to manage and prevent tension headaches. This is typically a combination of minimizing stress in your life and learning relaxation techniques. Your chiropractor may also help you improve your posture. Poor posture is a very common contributing factor for many types of headaches. Working on laptops while sitting on the couch or using our handheld devices can cause neck pain that can exacerbate the problem as well.
Chiropractic for Tension Headaches
Your Doctor of Chiropractic will sit down with you to discuss your history, including your headaches. He or she will conduct diagnostic tests including x-rays, MRIs and other to determine if there are underlying causes for your headaches. They will recommend various lifestyle changes including dietary changes and exercises that you can do.
Your doctor may also perform chiropractic adjustments, or spinal manipulation which will help return the body to proper balance, improving spinal function and alleviating stress on the body and system. This helps to relieve pain as an immediate treatment, but when performed consistently, chiropractic can also help prevent tension headaches, allowing you to live pain free.