Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. About 70% of headache cases are tension type. This is common in adolescents and adults of any age and gender.
Tension headaches are caused by contraction of the muscles in the head and neck. This muscle contraction can be a result of stress (environmental or emotional), fatigue, eye strain, fatigue, bad posture, alcoholic beverages, tobacco use, and hormonal changes for women.
Tension Headache Symptoms
- Mild to moderate pain in the head and neck area. Unlike other types of headaches, the pain caused by tension headaches is usually experienced in the generalised area of the head and the neck.
- Tight, band-like sensation felt in the back of the head and neck.
- Muscle contraction felt in the back of the neck.
- Headache arising at a later time of the day.
Tension headaches are usually episodic but if the headache lasts up to 15 days or more per month, it may be a chronic tension headache. A common tension headache may not keep a patient from doing their activities of daily living but if the condition is chronic, it could cause distress and disability due to its persistent nature.
Pain medication overuse can also cause chronic tension headaches. If you are used to taking medications every time you experience a headache, your body will become used to the medication. If you miss a day of taking the medication, it may result in a withdrawal headache, for which you will take another pill, thinking it is another occurrence of tension headache. Once the effect of each pain medication subsides, further withdrawal headaches occurs and the cycle will continue.
As dysfunction in the joints of the neck can lead to muscle tension, chiropractic manipulation may help relieve tension headaches