A very thorough assessment done very professionally. It put my mind at rest – the hard work starts now.
Matt, Maidenhead

Tension Headaches – What Are They? How Do I Manage Them?

Headaches come in different forms and can present in numerous ways. Headaches can be a result of trauma, compression, high altitude and migraines. This mini blog is more focussed on the ‘tension headache’.

Tension headaches are most common of primary headaches. They often result in a headache of varying intensities, which will ache, throb, feel dull and/or tighten. While they are usually one sided and can be felt on the front, side or back of the head.

As the name would suggest, they are largely driven by increased stress on a person’s system. This stress can be exacerbated by other lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition, sleep, alcohol consumption and changes in hormones.

From an anatomical/posture standpoint, your jaw and posture can also often promote the continuation of symptoms. Working on your posture can alter the stress of your jaw and postures are often a contributing factor to continued stress and a negative thought/mood state. As a response to the headache, there are often areas of tension that may also contribute symptoms.

When looking at tension headaches and treating them, a holistic approach must be taken. This is due to the fact the contributing factors are multi-factorial.  If you are to self manage it would be a good idea to write down a list of potential contributing factors that have been discussed. Once you have written this list you can then decide whether they are modifiable or not. If they are you should:

  • Prioritise sleep
  • Manage work/life/family stress as best possible
  • Try to have some ‘chill time’. You can use this time to perform some basic breathing techniques, gentle foam rolling or go for a gentle walk
  • Reduce alcohol consumption and eat well
  • Try to alter your posture, it may have an effect on your symptoms

Again, it is always better to get a qualified health professional to rule in/out and other contributing factors and/or other potential conditions. If you are struggling with self management, a health professional will also be able to best guide you on a management strategy.

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