What is A Tension Headache?
A tension headache is a type of headache characterized by dull and constant pressure around the head, temples, or forehead. It is usually caused by muscle tension in the neck, scalp, and shoulder muscles. In some cases, it can be associated with sensitivity to light and sound.
Other factors like stress, fatigue, and dehydration can contribute to muscle tension and increase the severity of a tension headache.
Signs and Symptoms
1. Pressure Or Tightness On Both Sides of Head/Face
2. Aching Pain On Head
3. Sensitivity In Scalp, Neck, Or Shoulders
4. Muscle Tension In Neck Or Shoulders
5. May Have Sensitivity to Light or Sound
What Are the Causes?
1. Muscle Tension
Muscle tension, stiffness, and tightness around the neck and the shoulders contribute to tension headaches.
Stress and anxiety can be triggers for tension headaches.
3. Eye Strain
Overuse of the eyes for extended periods of time, such as through excessive screen time, causes eye strain which may contribute to tension headaches.
How does physiotherapy Treat Tension Headaches?
Resolves the root cause
During the assessment, your therapist will determine why your tension headache is occurring. Your therapist will then provide treatments, prescribe exercises, and educate you on how to relieve your symptoms.
1. Manual Therapy
Myofascial release: to reduce pain, tightness, and inflammation of the muscles, joints, nerves, and fascia of the affected areas.
Joint mobilization: to promote smooth joint movement and mobility of the neck, shoulder, shoulder blade and other affected areas.
2. Biomechanical Optimization
Improves alignment and stability of the cervical spine via:
Postural conditioning: corrects poor posture and muscle imbalances to improve alignment of the head, neck, and shoulders.
Movement pattern conditioning: optimizing neck and shoulder movement recruiting the appropriate neck, shoulder, and shoulder blade muscles.
3. Exercise Therapy
Stretching: to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
Strengthening: to improve the activation and stability of the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and shoulder blade which can restore relieve muscle, joint, and nerve dysfunction in the neck.
Home exercise program: individualized exercise prescription to restore optimal and balanced movement.
Acupuncture: use of thin needles to improve local and systemic function, regulate the nervous system, and promote the body’s natural healing processes.
Heat and cold therapy: to manage reduce pain and tension or control inflammation.
Electrostimulation: use of electrical currents to stimulate muscles and reduce pain.
Ultrasound: use of high-frequency sound waves to produce deep tissue heating to reduce muscle tension, fascial tension, and inflammation.
Laser therapy: to improve blood flow, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote tissue healing.
Recommendations regarding lifestyle and activity modifications, managing triggers, posture, and sleeping position to help reduce load, risk of recurrence, and further injury.