What is a tension headache?
Tension headaches are dull pain, tightness, or pressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck. Some people say it feels like a clamp squeezing the skull. Often called stress headaches, they’re the most common type for adults.
There are two types:
These headaches can last from 30 minutes to a few days. The episodic kind usually starts gradually, often in the middle of the day.
Chronic ones come and go over a longer period of time. The pain may get stronger or ease up throughout the day, but it’s almost always there.
Although your head hurts, tension headaches usually don't keep you from your daily activities, and they don’t affect your vision, balance, or strength.
What Are the Symptoms?
A few common ones include:
Unlike migraine headaches, you won’t have other nerve symptoms, such as muscle weakness or blurred vision. And they don’t usually cause severe sensitivity to light or noise, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Where Does It Hurt?
This type of headache can:
What Causes Tension Headaches?
There's no single cause for them. Most of the time, they’re triggered by stress, whether from work, school, family, friends, or other relationships.
Episodic ones are usually set off by a single stressful situation or a buildup of stress. Daily stress can lead to the chronic kind.
This type of headache doesn’t run in families. Some people get them because of tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. This muscle tension can come from:
Preventing future tension headaches
Since tension headaches are often caused by specific triggers, identifying the factors that cause your headaches is one way to prevent future episodes. A headache diary can help you determine the cause of your tension headaches.
For each day that you have a tension headache, make a note of it. After several weeks or months, you may be able to make a connection. For example, if your journal shows that headaches occurred on days when you ate a particular food, that food may be your trigger.
Relaxation Techniques to Relieve Headaches
Here are a few relaxation exercises. But first, be sure that you have a quiet location that is free of distractions and a comfortable body position. As hard as it sounds, try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.
There are also gentle exercises that can help alleviate head pain related to stress and tight muscles in the upper back or neck.
The lateral flexion (ear to shoulder) stretch aims to relieve tension on the neck muscles. Gently bend your neck to the left side, attempting to touch your left ear to your shoulder. Pause when a stretch is felt in the right side of your neck. Use your hand to gently create a further stretch. The gentle pressure shouldn’t cause pain. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Do it on the other side. Do 10 of this routine for each side.
Lie down, breath in and out slowly. Rotate your head in a smooth circular way twice and then roll shoulders forward and back several times. Do these repeatedly until you feel your muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath, breath out slowly to finish off.
· Wind Relieving Pose for Tension Headache
The wind relieving pose focuses on relieving the spine and neck area. This exercise can help excess gas from the body. Yoga basics recommend this routine to do the wind relieving pose for tension headache.
Lying on your back, inhale both knees into your chest. Wrap the arms around the knees, holding on to opposite elbows, forearms, wrists or fingers. Tuck the chin into the chest with the head on the floor. Press the sacrum and tailbone down into the floor as you pull the knees into the chest using the arms. Press the shoulders and the back of the neck down into the floor, trying to get the back and whole spine flat to the floor. Relax the legs, feet and hips. Breathe and hold 4-8 breaths, breathing deeply into the belly, actively pressing it against the thighs on the inhalation. To release: exhale and release the arms and legs to the floor.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.
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