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What is a Tension Headache?

When you suffer from frequent headaches, knowing what type you have can help determine the right customized treatment. Tension headaches are among the most common types that occur.

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Tension headaches differ from other headaches in terms of where they occur and what specific symptoms they cause. Tension headaches typically cause mild or moderate discomfort on the sides of your head, the back of it or in your forehead. You might also have soreness along your scalp, as well as in your neck. Your shoulders might also be sore from this type of a headache.

How do you know if the pain you’re having is a tension headache or a migraine? Migraines also cause pain that can last for hours, but there are some important differences to note. Migraines usually occur with other kinds of symptoms, such as nausea, light sensitivity or noise sensitivity. Your symptoms might also become worse with physical activity if you have a migraine.

Types of Tension Headaches

Depending on which type of a tension headache you have, you might have frequent tension headaches for fewer than 15 days per month, or you might have chronic headaches for more than 15 days per month. This headache pain can last for several hours at a time, or even as long as one week. Frequent tension headaches are known as episodic tension headaches, while ones that occur more often over a long period of time are known as chronic tension headaches.

Causes of Tension Headaches

The underlying cause of tension headaches isn’t fully understood. Scientists believe it might be linked to having an increased sensitivity to discomfort and pain. Tension headaches are usually brought on by stress, especially if you experience stress on a daily basis.

Treatments for Tension Headaches

There are several ways to ease the pain that tension headaches can cause. Home care for these headaches includes taking over-the-counter pain relievers, managing stress more effectively, putting ice or heat on sore shoulder muscles and learning to sit up straight. Improving your posture helps lower the risk of having your neck and shoulder muscles tense up on you. Taking hot showers might also help relieve symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments such as giving up smoking, limiting caffeine and sugar, eating healthy and getting enough sleep, can also reduce your risk.

If home care measures don’t help, you might need to look into other forms of treatment, such as preventive medication, massage therapy or medications that offer more effective relief. Botox injections can also provide more effective treatment for chronic tension headaches, especially if you also suffer from migraines.

For more information for customized treatment plans and further options for tension headaches, please contact Complete Neurological Care to schedule an appointment.

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