Tension Headaches: What Can I Do?


Tension headaches are a real pain. They can have a profound effect on quality of life. The resulting irritability, loss of sleep and reduced productivity can impact on the ability to participate in all kinds of activities.

An estimated 80% of the population experiences tension headaches. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The pain of a tension headache often feels like pressure that affects the head on both sides, radiating from the base of the skull, neck, eyes or scalp muscles.

It’s important to differentiate between tension and migraine headaches. The treatment for these conditions is quite different. Migraine headaches are generally more severe and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, visual disturbance, light or sound sensitivity and increased severity with physical exertion. Migraines are usually unilateral, where tension headaches tend to affect both sides of the head.

Tension headaches have a range of causes: stress, anxiety, dehydration, low blood sugar, overexertion and fatigue can be factors. Poor movement mechanics, apical (chest) breathing and prolonged sitting can play a part as well. Eye strain is another cause that is important to consider. In our modern world most adults spend a lot of time working at a computer or using a hand held device. Research shows that extended time in front of a screen, especially at night, is detrimental to eye health.

In our experience, tension headaches respond extremely well to manual therapy. Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Graston, ART and Chiropractic care are all great options for restoring healthy muscle tone, joint mobility and reducing inflammation and pain. Our team of providers can assess your condition, give you a comprehensive treatment plan and get you on the road to recovery.

At RVH and The Base we believe most recurring tension headaches are caused by dysfunctional movement patterns. The most important step in ensuring full recovery is retraining the body to work better. Improving breathing patterns, mobilizing and strengthening the spine and shoulders, and improving core strength is key. Our 43°22 Performance Assessment is designed to give you an individual, integrated training program that will address movement impairments and improve your foundation.

Please note: An unusual tension headache can indicate a more serious problem. See a physician immediately if your headache meets any of these criteria:

1. sudden, severe onset
2. loss of balance
3. high fever
4. neck stiffness
5. seizure
6. visual disturbance
7. weakness
8. numbness
9. confusion
10. slurred speech

If your goal is to improve your quality of life and fitness, the team at RVH has the tools, experience and knowledge to get you there. We’ll fix your nagging injuries, teach you how to train more effectively, and give you nutrition and lifestyle strategies that are proven to get results. We are the best at what we do and we guarantee that if you commit to a 43°22 program you will reach your goal. All you need to do is show up. Call us today to get started. 780.430.9224