Symptoms of tension headaches include pain, stitches, a feeling of heaviness in the head, or facial pain – regardless of the cause; it is a very general term often used by doctors.
Headaches can come from different organs or body structures: eyes, high blood pressure, nerves, brain, etc., but one of the most common causes is muscle and ligament tension.
There’s also the stress-induced migraine , which can come with or without an aura.
The throbbing pain can be all over the forehead or unilateral (on the right or left side).
How many medications have you taken for headaches without solving the problem? How long did it take for the pain to come back? If you suffer from tension headaches, these questions should give you food for thought.
When people talk about the head and face, it is commonly thought that they are just a few connected bones; in fact, there are many important, commonly used muscles here, such as those responsible for the movement of the eyes, the jaw, and the expression of our emotional sensations (frowns, etc.).
Just as a cramp, strain or strain can occur in the thigh, so can the muscles in the head, which then causes a headache.
Some people have episodic headaches , meaning they only happen infrequently, such as on particularly stressful days or when certain thoughts keep running through your head; they will go away on their own once the problem is resolved.
Chronic muscle tension headaches are common, usually 1-2 times a week, and symptoms can last 1-2 days.
Young people and women are mainly affected, especially if they lead a predominantly sedentary, sedentary lifestyle.
What are the symptoms of tension headaches? When are they performing?
The conventional wisdom is that tension headaches inevitably go hand in hand with neck pain (also called cervicalgia); this is also often, but not always, the case, since it is quite possible that only the muscles in the head and face hurt.
Tension headaches can affect the forehead, the back of the head, the temples, the back of the neck, or the vertical band that rises up from the base of the occiput at the back and causes eye pain.
The pain can be throbbing and unbearable, or it can be felt as dull and aching.
Headaches worsen mood, make you more nervous, worry and have difficulty concentrating. Some people shut themselves away in a darkened room because they suffer from sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia).
What are the causes of tension headaches?
Tension headaches can have a variety of causes:
- high mood and psychological distress, such as stress, depression and anxiety;
- traumas such as a car accident with whiplash ;
- surgical interventions, eg herniated discs in the cervical spine;
- bad posture in the neck area;
- teeth grinding (bruxism) and misaligned teeth;
- Tooth extraction and dental procedures;
- certain foods such as dark chocolate;
- empty stomach and drop in blood sugar levels;
- there are theories regarding low serotonin levels or hyperexcitability of the neurons that carry the pain signal;
- menstrual cycle in women;
- birth control pills and other hormone treatments;
- smoky rooms.
The most common causes of headaches in children are stress and bruxism.
How is the differential diagnosis made?
In order to find out what type of headache it is, the doctor will ask where the pain occurs, when exactly it occurs during the day or week, how long the patient has been suffering from it, whether eating habits or certain foods, whether medication is taken for other illnesses.
The other types of headache are very painful, especially trigeminal neuralgia : the trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve that innervates almost the entire face; it causes excruciatingly painful stitches on certain movements of the face and jaw.
Depending on how often they occur, headaches are divided into episodic headaches and chronic headaches that occur every day.
If the doctor has doubts, he can order a magnetic resonance or CT scan of the brain to rule out serious illnesses (e.g. brain tumour) as the cause.
The headache specialist is the neurologist working with a group of other experts; if the neurologist cannot identify any organic disorders, they usually diagnose tension headaches.
What can you do? What is the right treatment for tension headaches?
The best treatment for tension headaches is to carefully monitor the symptoms to determine the cause : medication, diet, lifestyle habits, etc.
If the cause lies in certain foods or drugs, the only solution to solving the problem is to avoid the risk factors.
In other cases, especially in the case of previous surgeries, tooth extractions, car accidents or cervical headaches, manual therapy is particularly effective in releasing adherence and tension and regaining muscle elasticity and flexibility.
With manual physiotherapy, such as McKenzie method exercisesor myofascial manipulations, the cause of the problem is eliminated and is therefore of lasting success.
If the cause of the headache is grinding your teeth at night, the problem can be solved by wearing a bite splint.
Which medications can help?
Taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs in a timely manner can relieve or stop the pain for a period of time, but the root causes are not treated and the pain can recur after a few days.
There are numerous natural cures for tension headaches.
Studies show that acupuncture can be effective for temporary pain relief.
Exercise is an excellent remedy for tension headaches because it reduces nervous tension and improves overall body functioning.
The forehead and painful areas should not be cooled with ice, cold packs on the neck and neck should be avoided.
How long do tension headaches last? The healing prognosis
The recovery times are difficult to determine, the acute headache lasts from a few hours to about 3 days and in the case of chronic headaches the patient can experience a recurrence almost daily.