Tension Headaches and Tension Headache Symptoms

One of the most common types of headaches are the ones we’ll be discussing in this article.  Tension headaches, as they’re called, affect some roughly 3% of the population.  Additionally, it is estimated that this tension-type headache as it is called from the International Headache Society, accounts for 90% of all headaches.  So, as you can see, it is much more common than other types; like the migrane or cluster headache.  We’ll be discussing their various similarities and differences here for the sake of educational and informational purposes.

Even though this type of headache pain is common and not life threatening, the proper diagnosis from a qualified and licensed health care practitioner is still warranted.  This is especially true for those suffering headaches everyday or have frequent enough attacks to warrant a more in-depth evaluation.  Sometimes, the symptoms of tension headache are similar to more serious or debilitating headaches, like migraine symptoms for example.

Tension Headache Symptoms

What are some of these symptoms we’re referring to?  To begin with, the tension-type headaches are often less severe in terms of pain than the cluster or migraine headache.  Symptoms are often described as being like a vise that is squeezing ones head.  This pain can be mild or moderate but is often not severe, though this is possible, too.  It is also likely to be bilateral – on both sides of the head.  Headache back of head or otherwise should be evaluated to properly diagnose from other conditions that would require more extensive work-ups.

The pain often radiates from the neck, back, eyes or other muscles of the body.  Trigger points and other spinal-related distortions or dysfunction can lead to this common form of headache.  This is why this is often called a cervicogenic headache (cervico = neck and genic = origin, in Latin – ie. pain that comes from the neck).  If these symptoms occur for more than 15 days each month, they are considered chronic tension headaches.  If they occur less frequently than this, they are considered episodic.  The pain from this type of headache may last minutes to days, though a 4-6 hour time frame is typical.

Tension Headaches Treatment

There are a variety of treatment options available for those looking to answer the question “how to get rid of tension headaches?”  Since most agree that this form of headache is primarily due to musculo-skeletally related conditions, physical forms of care are often utilized for most effective relief.  Practices like chiropractic, acupuncture, massage and other exercises for the neck are the most common practices.  In our office, we offer Network Spinal Analysis care as our primary discipline.

For those interested in medical solutions, it is common that ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen are commonly suggested.  This is outside the scope of chiropractic practice, but your M.D., D.O. or N.D. may suggest these to you.  These are different and effective at relieving the pain, whereas migraine medications are more likely to be prescribed over manual therapies, even though studies do show that chiropractic can help those with underlying migraine causes of headache pain.

Besides the more commonly held notion that these headaches are related to musculo-skeletal reasons, there is another idea that it has to do with pain regulation from areas of the brain stem.  Again, there are spinal and chiropractic implications here that affect the way in which the central nervous system perceives and processes information coming from the spine and environment.

In any case, there are other ways in which these headaches arise – dietary, stress and physical strain.  When these other causes are addressed, it is very common for the headaches to go away as well.  Like all people and symptoms that we address in our office, our chiropractor Gilbert AZ is trained to help find solutions to your spine-related problems and care for you in a safe and effective way.  If you’re interested in seeing how we can help you, contact us today.


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