With a name like tension headache, there’s little wonder why this headache is the most common of them all, as stress is in no short supply. Tension headaches affect 2 out of 3 adults at some point in their lives, and, for the unlucky ones, these headaches can become a constant and most unwelcome companion.
If you’re suffering from chronic tension headaches — more than 15 headaches per month for three months or more — you simply want solutions for relieving the pain.
As Commonwealth Pain & Spine specializes in pain management, including headaches and migraines, you’ve come to the right place. In the following, our experienced team explores how we can help you gain the upper hand on tension headaches.
When you’re in the grips of a tension headache, we recommend over-the-counter medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or acetaminophen, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
We don’t prescribe stronger pain-relieving medications for tension headaches, as over-the-counter products are usually adequate. Besides, the risks of prescription painkillers are such that we typically only deploy them in extreme circumstances.
For people with chronic tension headaches, longer-term medications like antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, can help.
Therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and biofeedback, can also be very useful in managing chronic tension headaches. With CBT, you work on relaxation training and overall stress management, and biofeedback is an innovative therapy in which you learn how to modify your body’s response to a headache.
Tension headaches are directly related to stress and muscle tension, so these are important areas to address. We strongly urge stress-relieving practices like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga for patients with chronic tension headaches.
In fact, yoga delivers a double punch when it comes to tension headaches — the practice relieves stress and tackles muscle tension in key areas, such as in your shoulders and neck.
If yoga doesn’t appeal to you, a nice walk in nature can also do wonders for relieving stress and muscle tension.
Another great way to relieve both stress and tension is through massage therapy.
It’s also helpful to better understand your triggers to figure out what brings on your tension headaches. For example, if you typically develop a tension headache after sitting at your desk for hours, we can reasonably assume that muscle tension in your neck and shoulders is contributing. In this case, we can set up a regular stretching schedule.
This is just one example of a tension headache trigger, and our goal is to help you identify your unique precipitating events or conditions so that we can come up with an avoidance plan.
To figure out which approaches are best for finding relief from your chronic tension headaches, we invite you to make an appointment at a location near you. We have offices in St. Matthews, Elizabethtown, Lexington, Crestview Hills, Owensboro, and London, Kentucky. We also serve patients in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio.