How Can I Be Sure It Is Not A More Serious Type Of Headache
With tension headaches, you are normally well between headaches, and have no other ongoing symptoms. A doctor diagnoses tension headaches by their description. In addition, there is nothing abnormal to find if a doctor examines you . Tests are not needed unless you have unusual symptoms, or something other than chronic tension headache is suspected. Of particular note, medication-overuse headache should be ruled out as this can often be mistaken for chronic tension headache.
Compared to migraine, a tension headache is usually less severe, and is constant rather than throbbing. Also, migraine attacks usually cause a one-sided headache, and many people with a migraine attack feel sick or are sick . Some people have both migraine attacks and tension headaches at different times. In addition, some people find that one of the types of headaches is followed by another, perhaps because the pain and tiredness due to the first headache cause the second.
Tmj And Your Headaches
Dr. Tom Cotter, DC
For the third iteration of this series, we will focus on TMJ related headaches. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint or in simpler terms your jaw.
Similar to people not realizing they are breathing improperly, many people often dont realize they are clenching their jaw. People clench their jaw for many reasons. This could be stress, poor posture, dehydration, etc. But by clenching their jaw or chewing gum all day they are putting their chewing muscles under constant tension. It would be similar to doing bicep curls nonstop or holding a weight straight out in front of you for hours on end. Both of those examples would start hurting pretty badly fairly quickly.
As follows, the muscles involved in closing your jaw and chewing are the masseter and the temporalis. The masseter is the muscle you can feel under your cheek when you chew. When strained the masseter will give you pain that can feel like a tooth ache, an ear ache, or a sinus headache. See figure 1.
Fig. 1 Simmons and Travell
Next is the Temporalis. The temporalis is a muscle you can feel on your temples when you clench your jaw. When strained the temporalis will give you pain in your upper teeth and/or a headache along the side of your head. See figure 2.
Fig. 2 namtpt.wildapricot.org
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How Can You Treat Stress Headachesand When Should You See A Doctor
Depending on the severity and length of your stress headache, it can go away on its own by simply taking a break from whatever activity is causing you stress, Dr. Wexler says. Lying down, meditating, or doing some light yoga are all great options.
However, if the pain is really bothersome, most stress headaches can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen or naproxen, Dr. Broner saysbut be wary of the frequency with which youre taking medications. If you find that you’re taking more than once a week on a regular basis, that’s a sign that you’re getting increased headache frequency and you should speak to your doctor about what’s causing your headaches, Dr. Broner says.
Dr. Wexler also recommends that if headaches arent the norm for you, especially if youre over the age of 50, you should consider speaking to a neurologist or headache specialist, since this could signal that something else more serious is going on. Some other warning signs to pay attention to, according to Dr. Wexler, include: headaches that consistently get worse or more frequent over time, accompanied by any neurological conditions such as double vision, numbness, tingling, paralysis, loss of vision, or accompanied by a fever.
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Read Also: What All Can Stress Do To Your Body
Start By Focusing On A Better Nights Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the top causes of tension headaches. When your body hasnt had the proper amount of rest, it will start to put pressure on various elements. You will release the bad hormones into the body, including cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. At the same time, your muscles wont have had the chance to relax and repair overnight, so you start to carry the tension in them.
If youre struggling to sleep, you will want to look at your sleeping pattern. One bad night isnt going to make a major difference, just like one good night isnt going to make a world of difference in the middle of a bunch of bad ones. What you want to avoid is a constant cycling of struggling to sleep and then stressing over the lack of sleep that youre getting.
Setting up a good bedtime routine is crucial for a good nights sleep. We are all creatures of habit this is in our human nature. Just like children, we need to help our brains wind down and get ready for sleep.
Some people find reading relaxing, while others prefer to have a warm bath. There are others who like to listen to nature music, while some people like to burn incense. Work in the way that you prefer to wind down.
This will involve getting rid of the phone. The light in LED tricks the brain into thinking that it is still daylight so you wont start to feel tired in the same way that you would without that phone light glaring in your face.
What Are The Symptoms Of Each Tension Headache
- Tension headaches are usually felt as a band or across the forehead. They can be uncomfortable and tiring, but they do not usually disturb sleep. Some people feel a squeezing or pressure on their head.
- It usually occurs on both sides, and often spreads down your neck, or seems to come from your neck. Sometimes it is just on one side.
- The pain is usually moderate or mild. Tension headaches can interrupt concentration but are usually not bad enough to send you to bed. Most people can work through a tension headache if they really need to.
- A tension headache can last from 30 minutes to seven days. Most last a few hours.
- Tension headaches tend to become worse as the day goes on and are often mildest in the morning. They are not usually made worse by physical activity.
- An exception to this would be a headache caused by sleeping in an awkward position, causing a sore neck, or an ache in the face and jaw due to tooth grinding.
- There are usually no other symptoms.
Sometimes migraines are mistaken for chronic tension headaches. Some people don’t like bright lights or loud noises, and don’t feel like eating much when they have a tension headache. However, marked dislike of light or loud noise, and visual disturbances, like zigzag lines, are more suggestive of migraine. A mild feeling of sickness can occur, especially if you are using a lot of painkillers. However, marked nausea is, again, more a feature of migraine.
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How Can You Relieve Tension Headache Pain
Here are some tips to help you manage the cause of your tension headaches:
- Get an eye exam. If youre straining to read, or keep tilting your head up and down to use those off-the-shelf glasses, you may need a new pair of glasses.
- Redesign your workstation. Simply raising your computer monitor or getting a document stand can help reduce repeated head tilting that can strain the occipital muscles.
- Avoid slouching and practice good posture. Consider trying yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. All of these disciplines are great forms of exercise and all can help to improve posture. Also, you may want to consult a physical therapist, chiropractor, or movement therapist for exercises that are tailored to your need.
- Get a 30-minute massage that concentrates on the neck and upper back. This can help relax your muscles and relieve your headache pain.
- Try applying a hot pack to the base of the head. Do this for 15-20 minute intervals.
- Stuff two tennis balls into a sock and tie it off tightly. Lie on your back on the floor. Place the tennis balls under the base of your skull and allow your head to compress against them. Gently rock your head back and forth and side to side for a few minutes.
What Causes A Tension Headache
The exact mechanism that causes a tension headache is not known. Several factors, such as genetics and environment, are thought to be involved. Muscle contractions in the head and neck are considered a major factor in the development of a tension headache. Some people get tension headaches in response to stressful events or hectic days.
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How Can I Tell If I Have Tension Headaches
In order to diagnose tension type headache, other diagnoses or another condition causing the headache must be ruled out, and a clinical exam must be performed. During a physical exam the clinician will identify tender points in the muscles under and around the skull. When pressure is put through these knots it can cause pain in another location which can be associated with tension headaches. There are no formal laboratory tests to diagnose tension type headaches.
Electrolyte Disturbances & Pseudotumor Cerebri
Chronic Adderall use can result in clinically significant electrolyte disturbances 1. Amphetamines, as well as other psychostimulants, are potent diuretics.
Adderall may deplete certain solutes, including magnesium, sodium and potassium. Hyponatremia or hypokalemia can cause headaches by disrupting the osmotic balance in the brain. When extracellular sodium concentrations fall, water diffuses into neurons , causing them to swell. This may cause total brain volume to temporarily increase and increase pressure in the cranial vault, resulting pseudotumor cerebri.
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When To Call The Doctor
- You are experiencing “the worst headache of your life.”
- You have speech, vision, or movement problems or loss of balance, especially if you have not had these symptoms with a headache before.
- A headache starts suddenly.
Schedule an appointment or call your provider if:
- Your headache pattern or pain changes.
- Treatments that once worked no longer help.
- You have side effects from your medicine.
- You are pregnant or could become pregnant. Some medicines should not be taken during pregnancy.
- You need to take pain medicines more than 3 days a week.
- Your headaches are more severe when lying down.
What Exactly Is A Stress Headache
You have likely experienced many different types of headaches which can range from sinus to migraines. So, how can you tell if your headache may be caused by stress? Tension or stress headache symptoms tend to follow a certain pattern.iii
- A stress headache will normally be a mild or moderately painful dull ache.
- Stress headache pain will often feel like a tight band around your head front, sides and back.
- Your scalp, neck and shoulders may also feel sore or tender.
- Stress headaches can be either episodic or chronic .
- Unlike migraines, stress headaches arent typically aggravated by light, sound or physical activity.
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Tips To Relieve Headache With Neck Pain
Headache with neck pain can be a double whammy that makes it difficult to move the head and/or concentrate. While headaches can cause the muscles in your neck to become stiff and painful, a problem in your neck, such as irritated nerves, can also cause headaches. Common conditions where you may experience headache and neck pain together are:
Several conditions can cause neck pain and headache to occur together. ReadWhat Is Causing My Neck Pain and Headache?
Here are 11 tips to help relieve headache and neck pain without medication. Just remember to stop a treatment if it makes your pain worse.
Remedies To Get Rid Of Headaches Naturally
Headaches are a common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.
Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.
Several types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or clusters, while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.
Although many medications are targeted at relieving headache symptoms, a number of effective, natural treatments also exist.
Here are 18 effective home remedies to naturally get rid of headaches.
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Outlook For People With Tension Headaches
Tension headaches often respond to treatment and rarely cause any permanent neurological damage. Still, chronic tension headaches can affect your quality of life.
These headaches can make it difficult for you to participate in physical activities. You may also miss days of work or school. If it becomes a serious problem, talk to your healthcare provider.
Its important to not ignore severe symptoms. Seek medical attention immediately if you have a headache that starts suddenly or a headache accompanied by:
- slurred speech
What Is Chronic Tension Headache And Who Is Affected By It
Chronic tension headache is a condition where you have a tension headache on at least 15 days every month for at least three months.This can be tiring and depressing. Tension headache is the common type of headache that most people have at some time.
It’s not known exactly how common chronic tension headache is, as few studies have looked at this clearly. Some studies have estimated that around 1 in 30 of all adults have chronic tension headaches – which means they have a headache on more than half of all days for three months or more. However, it is possible that a proportion of these patients actually have developed medication-overuse headaches as a result of their tension headaches. Therefore, it can be difficult to be certain which is their main problem.
Chronic means persistent it does not mean severe. The severity of the headaches can vary from mild to severe. Because of the persistent nature of the headaches, however, this condition is often quite disabling and distressing, and most patients take preventative medication.
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What Causes Tension Headaches
Doctors dont have this 100% figured out yet. We dont know a whole lot about the pathology of headache tension-style headaches are likely triggered by inflammation, says Amit Sachdev, M.D., medical director in the division of neuromuscular medicine at Michigan State University.
Theres no single cause for tension headaches, but you can have a regular trigger. In general, tension headaches occur when the neck and scalp muscles become tense or contract, usually in response to stress, depression, a head injury, or anxiety, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states.
People of any age can get tension headaches, but theyre more likely to happen in adults and older teens, and tend to run in families. So, if your mom and grandma get them, the odds are pretty high that you will, too.
Theres a laundry list of possible tension headache triggers:
- Fatigue or overexertion
Taking On Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache, and most likely the one youll experience next. The condition can feel like a dull pressure or pounding sensation in or around the skull, and is caused by muscle tension, fatigue, stress, or all of the above.
Tension headaches might have a laundry list of potential causes, but they’re often exacerbated by poor posture. Fix your posture, and you have a better chance at fighting off your head pain.
There are many muscles in the head and neck that contribute to proper alignment and head position throughout the day. When that alignment is off and the deep stabilizing muscles in the neck and shoulders are weak, you might see a forward head position and rounded shoulder posture both of which contributing to unideal length tension relationships in these muscles.
Inadvertent hunching or tensing of the muscles in the shoulders or neck can cause these muscles to tighten and fatigue contributing to trigger points and tension throughout the muscles. By lengthening, strengthening and releasing the soft tissue, you can improve alignment and reduce the strain on these muscles.
Instead of grabbing the Advil and shutting down the next time a headache comes on, be proactive and combat your headache with these 5 stretches. Several of them depend on a foam roller if you need one, check out this option from TriggerPoint.
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Ease Off The Caffeine
For some people, taking caffeine can ease the pain of a headache. For others, caffeine can have the opposite effect. Taking too much caffeine, or trying to quit cold turkey, can produce unintended side-effects like tension headaches.
Try to drink caffeinated beverages in moderation so your body will be less likely to react with pain. If youre struggling to get through the day without that extra cup of afternoon coffee, try these healthy ways to stay energized at work instead.