A tension headache is also called Muscle contraction headache, Rebound headaches – tension and stress headaches. The scientists define it as a dull pain, tightness, or pressure around the back of the head and neck or in the area of the forehead.
It is the most common type of headaches in adults. Sometimes, it lasts from 30 minutes to several days and often starts gradually in the middle of the day.
In a few cases, this headache may be Chronic as it comes and goes over a long period of time. However, it becomes stronger, but it doesn’t affect the vision, balance, or activity.
The statistics of the Cleveland Clinic say that chronic headaches affect approximately 3 percent of the U.S. Population. Also, Women have the risk of a tension headache about twice more than men.
It may result from several works as typing, computer work, using a microscope and even fine works with the hands. Furthermore, when you have a problem or something puts you under stress, the headache starts. Also, it may be triggered by anxiety.
Causes of a Tension Headache
1- As mentioned, there are many causes of this headache.
2- Scientists say that tension headache is mostly triggered by stress, whether from work, school, friends, or other conditions. In Addition, the Daily stress can lead to a chronic headache.
3- Also, tension in the muscles in the back of the neck and scalp produces a headache. These muscles may be tightened as a result of:
• Exhaustion and bad posture weather during standing and sleeping
• Depression, Emotional conditions, and mental stress
• Some foods and stresses can cause these tightening of the muscles
• Sometimes, staring at a computer screen for a long time cause a headache.
• Cold temperatures may trigger a stress headache.
• Dry eyes
• a sinus infection, Colds, and the flu
• Dental problems such as teeth grinding
• Eye strain
• A migraine.
• Tension headaches are not associated with brain diseases.
Symptoms of a tension headache:
1- Dull pain
2- a headache usually on both sides of the temples
3- Aching pain in the back of the head, neck, and top of the shoulders
4- Concentration problems
5- Moderate and constant pressure in the front and top of the head. Usually, this pain starts to appear at midday.
6- Sleeping disorders as insomnia.
8- Mild sensitivity to light and noise
9- tenderness around the scalp and the forehead
How to treat symptoms of a stress headache:
1- medications: a pain reliever is helpful to your case.
2- always, stay hydrated. Drink enough water (and fluids) so that they can aid in subsiding the headache.
3- Practice meditation to relieve the tension and be relaxed. Also, massage will help relieve tightness in the tightened muscles.
4- Have a rest when you experience a headache.
5- Keep in mind that, it’s better to treat a headache when they first begin. This will prevent the complications and severe symptoms of it.
6- Avoid the causes and triggers of stress and anxiety.
7- There are beneficial home remedies, like a hot bath and better posture of sleep.
8- Also, there are Some drugs may keep you from getting the headache, like blood pressure medications and antidepressants.
Treatment of a tension headache
1- Medications and home remedies
• over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications
These medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin may relieve the pain on the back of head and neck. They help you to get rid of a tension headache.
However, it is advised not to take them for a long time.
The prolonged use of OTC medications may lead to “overuse” or “rebound” headaches.
• Prescription-strength acetaminophen
• a muscle relaxant
muscle relaxant help relaxes the muscles and stops contractions.
• Stress management classes
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
There are many helpful supplements may help relieve a tension headache. But, you should always consult a doctor first since these remedies can interact with the conventional medications.
1- Here are the recommended supplements by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:
• Coenzyme Q10
• vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
2- There are additional ways to relieve a tension headache:
• Take a hot shower to relax the muscles
• Apply a heating pad to your head for about 10 minutes.
Preventing the tension headaches
• Stress management.
There are many ways to manage the stress. Many persons find relaxation exercises and meditation helpful.
• Change your sleeping positions with a healthy one
• Stay in a good posture when reading or doing activities
• Exercise the neck and shoulders frequently when working on computers.
• Get plenty of rest
When to call the doctor
• You should call your doctor immediately if there are some complications or severe symptoms of a headache.
• If you experience speech, vision, or movement problems.
• In case of loss of balance.
• When a headache starts suddenly and associated with repeated vomiting
• High fever
• When your body gives no response to the mentioned medications
• If there are side effects from medicines, such as irregular heartbeat, pale skin, insomnia, depression, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, and dry mouth.
• Amin A, et al. (2017). Chronic tension-type headache as a risk factor of myofascial trigger points in upper Trapezius muscle fibers in neck pain patients.
• Bendtsen L, et al. (2016). Drug treatment for episodic and chronic tension-type headache. In the Pharmacological management of headaches.
• Freitag F. Managing and treating tension-type headache. MED Clin N Am. 2013;97:281-292. PMID: 23419626.
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