FAQ’s on Tension Headache
The tension headache is the most common type of headache for an adult to have, and are more commonly known as stress headaches. Approximately 55%-80% of the population will experience some degree of tension headache during their life, with nearly 3% of individuals developing a chronic daily tension headache.
What are the causes of Tension Headaches?
There is no singular cause for the appearance of a headache, and it is not an inherited condition. Some patients develop tension headaches due to tightened muscles in the scalp and neck, while other headaches develop without a known cause. In many cases, the headache occurs directly as a response to a stress-based trigger.
What are the symptoms of Tension Headaches?
The primary symptom is a throbbing pain in the head, which may vary in intensity. Other symptoms include difficulty staying asleep if a headache develops, or difficulty in falling asleep if a headache is present. Chronic fatigue, muscle aches, and interruptions in concentration may also occur.
How is a Tension Headache diagnosed?
Tension headaches will not reveal any abnormalities on a neurological exam, making diagnosis with this method difficult. However, tension headaches usually have tender areas called trigger points form above muscles that have tightened. The presence of trigger points alongside headache symptoms is a strong indication that a tension headache is present.
What are the treatment options for Tension Headaches?
The primary goals in the treatment of tension headaches are to prevent future attacks and provide relief for any pain that is currently being felt (Managing and treating tension-type headache, 2013).
Medication: Patients will be given dosages of painkillers, which are typically the first step in treating the pain of a tension headache. Some painkillers may be able to directly prevent the occurrence of headaches in certain patients. Medications for the direct prevention of headaches may also be used to provide patients constant relief.
Physical Therapy: Patients receiving manual therapy may be able to obtain relief for their headaches by increasing the endurance of the neck muscles to reduce strain. In one clinical study focusing on how manual therapy provides relief for chronic tension headaches, evidence was given that increasing the neck flexor endurance is a working manual therapy technique for reducing pain, increasing the range of motion, and increasing the posture of the head with nearly a quarter of patients obtaining relief (The working mechanism of manual therapy in participants with chronic tension-type headache, 2013).
Management techniques: One of the primary methods of treating chronic tension headaches in patients is to develop techniques for better management of triggers that are present, which our clinic can teach to patients. By receiving instruction on what to do when a headache begins, and by learning when to take medications for the best effect, patients are able to manage their headaches to reduce severity.
Lidocaine Applications for Depression or Anxiety: Patients who are having anxiety
or depression as secondary symptoms of their chronic tension headaches may be able to receive relief through the use of a local lidocaine application. Following the use of this applicator, patients were able to lower their number of painful days, the required amount of medication used each month, and their clinically evaluated depression score (Efficacy of local lidocaine application on anxiety and depression and its curative effect on patients with chronic tension-type headache, 2013).
Lidocaine has also been shown to be effective for myofascial pain present in episodic headaches (Lidocaine injection of pericranial myofascial trigger points in the treatment of frequent episodic tension-type headache, 2013).
Mindfullness-based Therapy: Patients with chronic tension headaches can potentially obtain relief through the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction, which seeks to reduce the amount of stress a patient endures through relaxation therapy to reduce the frequency of headaches and the pain present during episodes.