Tension headaches are the most common headache type, representing approximately 60% of all headaches. These headaches are caused by the sustained contraction of the muscles in the neck and head region. The sustained muscle contraction is usually a result of a combination of the following:
- cervical/neck misalignments and faulty neck biomechanics
- previous neck/upper back injury- not properly rehabilitated
- poor posture
- Excessive emotional stress
- anxiety or depression
- prolonged sitting or driving
- improper sleeping habits
Characteristically, these headaches are generally mild to moderate in intensity and can last from hours to days. There is a constant tight or pressure sensation, generally feeling like a tight band is wrapping around the head. There is commonly pain and tightness in the area of the neck and shoulder. Pain generally starts in the base of the skull or temporal regions of the head and spreads outwards to affect other areas of the head and neck.
Chiropractors have great success treating muscle tension headaches. By utilizing spinal adjustments, therapeutic exercises and stretches, soft tissue techniques such as trigger point work and massage, and by counseling on lifestyle modification, tension headaches can become a thing of the past. Individuals should be warned that relying on analgesics to remedy tension headaches does nothing to correct the cause of the headache and generally worsens the headache in what's known as the "rebound effect". See "Drug-Induced Headaches" below for more information.
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