Final Thoughts On The Early Warning Signs Of A Stress Headache And Some Tips To Relieve The Pain
Having a stress headache once in a while is normal, but you shouldnt let it become a daily event. Find ways to prevent tension headaches from setting in. When you cant avoid one, make sure to find a way to relieve the pain.
Find ways to relax, and learn to walk away and take a break when you need one. Take care of your mind and body, and spend time exercising, meditating, or reflecting. If you experience frequent tension headaches, you can overcome the cycle.
Learning to work with the stress in your life makes all the difference. Avoiding stress is the best option, but that isnt always possible. Use these tips to relieve the pain of a stress headache and then work to prevent them altogether.
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.
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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Finding Out The Type Of Headache You Have
A doctor can usually diagnose tension headaches by asking you questions about your health and lifestyle and by examining you.
It can be hard to know which type of headache you have, because different types can have the same symptoms. But the treatments may be different, so it’s important to find out which type you have.
How Is A Mixed Tension Migraine Diagnosed
There is no test for mixed tension migraine. Your doctor can form a diagnosis based on your symptoms and by ruling out other causes of your symptoms.
If youre experiencing symptoms of a mixed tension migraine, your doctor will begin by taking your health history. Theyll ask you about your symptoms, including where you feel the pain, what the pain feels like, and how often the headaches occur.
Your doctor will also ask you about your familys history with headaches. This is because migraines may have a genetic link. Most people who experience migraines have a family member who also experiences migraines.
Your doctor may perform a neurological exam to rule out neuropathy and neurological disorders that can cause similar symptoms. During this exam, your doctor will test your reflexes and muscle tone. Theyll also test your response to different kinds of stimuli like light touch, temperature, and vibration. The results will tell your doctor if your nervous system is functioning normally.
Your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI scan of your head and neck. These tests will provide your doctor with an image of your brain and brain stem to see if your symptoms are being caused by a problem in your brain.
Your doctor may also order blood work to determine if underlying conditions are causing your headaches.
Treatment options for mixed tension migraine can include treatments for both tension headaches and migraines. The treatment will depend on your symptoms.
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How To Relieve Tension Headache
Tension headache is likely to happen again and again if you are stressed. The pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. For some people, hot or cold shower help relieve tension headache. Resting in a quiet, cool room and putting a cool clothe on your forehead can also ease out the pain.
There are gentle exercises that can help alleviate head pain related to stress and tight muscles in the upper back or neck.
Move : Chest Expansion/shoulder Stretch
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How Can Stress Cause Headaches
Everyday stress can bring on headaches in a variety of ways. Thats because stress causes us to change our behavior without even realizing it.iv
You may still experience the occasional tension headache, but practicing the above techniques should help reduce their frequency and severity. Looking for a quick and effective way to get rid of a stress headache? Try an over-the-counter headache relief medication like Excedrin.You may still experience the occasional tension headache, but practicing the above techniques should help reduce their frequency and severity. Looking for a quick and effective way to get rid of a stress headache? Try an over-the-counter headache relief medication like Excedrin.
And while relaxation therapies and simply cutting down on the stress in your life can help to reduce the occurrence of tension headaches, chronic tension headaches may be indicative of a more serious issue. Consult a doctor to discuss and learn more about your headaches.
Permanent Tension Headache Relief
Although tension headache is relatively common and not fatal, its bothersome and can widely affect your daily activities. To address the root cause of your pain, start with a no obligation appointment from MVMT Physio & Chiro and speak with a qualified pain expert. Get sound advice as to the right tension headache treatment for you and what you can do to stop it from coming back.
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Massage Your Pressure Points
As well as professional medical massage therapy, it can also help your headache if you massage yourself. Have you ever felt that instinct to rub your temples when youve had a headache?
Thats your bodys way of telling you what it needs. So listen to your instincts, and gently rub your temples and the areas under your eyes. This will act like a mini targeted massage.
The reason that rubbing these areas offers so much pain relief is because they are pressure points that can be used to relieve tension. There are also other pressure points that you can massage to relieve tension headaches, such as at the base of the skull or the inside of the eyebrows. Again, you might have noticed that your hands are naturally drawn to these points when you have a headache.
Two slightly stranger pressure points that can be massaged to relieve tension headaches are:
To massage between your thumb and index finger, firmly pinch the fleshy area and massage. For the pressure point between your toes, press down on the top of your foot, about an inch back from the point where your two toes meet.
Can You Prevent Tension Headaches
Even with treatment, most people still have some headaches. But with treatment, you will probably have them less often. And when you do get them, they probably won’t be as bad.
Home treatment may help you avoid headaches. You can:
- Try to reduce stress.
- Make sure you sleep, exercise, and eat on a regular schedule.
- Make sure you practice good posture. Stand and sit up straight.
- Try not to strain your eyes when you use your computer.
- Get treatment for depression or anxiety if you have those health problems.
- Try using a headache diary. Every time you get a headache, write down the date, the time, and what you were doing and feeling before your headache started. This may help you and your doctor find out what is causing your headaches. Then your doctor can use the diary to plan your treatment.
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When To Call A Doctor
or other emergency services if:
- You have symptoms of a stroke, such as:
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
- You have a fever and a stiff neck.
- You have new nausea and vomiting, or you cannot keep food or liquids down.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your headache wakes you up at night.
- Your headaches get worse or happen more often.
- You start to have new symptoms.
- You have any problems with your medicine.
- Your headaches occur after physical exercise, sexual activity, coughing, or sneezing.
- Your life is disrupted by your headaches .
How Common Are Tension Headaches
People dont always see their doctor for a tension headache, which makes exact numbers hard to predict. Researchers estimate that as many as 2 in 3 adults in the U.S. get tension headaches.
Chronic tension headaches are much less common. They affect an estimated 3% of adults. Women get tension headaches more often than men.
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What Are Tension Headaches
There are different types of tension headaches ranging from episodic to chronic. Infrequent-episodic headaches may occur 1 day per month or less. Frequent-episodic headaches may occur 1-15 days per month. However, If you have a headache lasting for more than 15 days per month, you would fall under the chronic category.
Both episodic and chronic headaches can have an effect on a persons quality of life and may affect work attendance, social relationships and every day activities. Tension headaches often begin during the day and may build in intensity, but the headache remains unchanged regardless of increased activity. The intensity of the pain not changing with physical activity is a big distinguishing difference between tension type headaches and migraines.
How To Relieve A Tension Headache
Because tension headaches have various causes, its a good idea to keep a journal and log any instances to try and ID your triggers. If you can determine what sets off the pain , then you can do your best to avoid that particular trigger. That said, the following tips can all help you find eventual relief:
1. Pop some OTC pain medications.
This is a popular approach for quick relief. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can all help reduce tension headache pain, says Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Always follow dosage instructions, and never take pain medications for more than three days per week regularly, as this can actually cause rebound headacheswhich may feel even worse.
2. Give yourself a massage.
Gently targeting the muscles in your scalp, temples, or bottom of your neck can help relieve the tension that spurred your headache, Dr. Mikhael says.
You can also target your masseter musclethe thick muscle that connects your jawbone and cheekboneif you tend to clench, grind, or generally hold tension in your face. When your jaw becomes too tight, it can cause other nearby muscles in your head and neck to do the same. When the force is too great you can get tension headaches,David Reavy, a Chicago-based physical therapist, previously told Prevention.
Try this 10-second masseter massage from Reavy a few times a day:
3. Add in some peppermint oil, while youre at it.
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Wind Relieving Pose For Tension Headache
The wind relieving pose focuses on relieving the spine and neck area. This exercise can help excess gas from the body. Yoga Basics recommend this routine to do the wind relieving pose for tension headache.
Lying on your back, inhale both knees into your chest. Wrap the arms around the knees, holding on to opposite elbows, forearms, wrists or fingers. Tuck the chin into the chest with the head on the floor. Press the sacrum and tailbone down into the floor as you pull the knees into the chest using the arms. Press the shoulders and the back of the neck down into the floor, trying to get the back and whole spine flat to the floor. Relax the legs, feet and hips. Breathe and hold 4-8 breaths, breathing deeply into the belly, actively pressing it against the thighs on the inhalation. To release: exhale and release the arms and legs to the floor.
How Are Tension Headaches Treated And Diagnosed
Tension headaches are diagnosed based on the patient’s reported history of the headache and physical examination. There is no test to specifically confirm tension headache. Because the physical examination in patients with tension headache is generally normal, additional testing such as CT scan or MRI scan usually isn’t required. Some basic blood work may be done to confirm that no underlying abnormality is present.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Headaches
Two types of headaches most commonly associated with anxiety are tension headaches and migraine attacks.
Tension headaches, while they can impair your quality of life, arent always disruptive to your daily routine and may improve fairly quickly.
Symptoms of a tension headache may include:
- tense muscles around the neck, head, and face
- tender neck, shoulders, and scalp
- squeezing pain around the head that may feel like a tight band
- mild to moderate pain
- dull or aching pain
On the other hand, migraine attacks can be severe enough to disrupt your daily activities and may get worse through physical activity.
Symptoms of a migraine attack include:
- severe pain, usually only on one side of the head
- severe pain that lasts a few hours to a few days
- throbbing, pounding, or pulsating pain
- sensitivity to light, noise, or smells
- nausea and vomiting
- migraine aura, which are sensory symptoms like vision distortions that may happen before or during a migraine attack
2016 study found higher rates of depression and anxiety in people who have migraine.
Based on the research, headaches, anxiety, and depression may be directly linked through a common neurological issue or indirectly linked through unintended side effects if the person with anxiety or depression is being treated with medication.
Anxiety may also set off your fight, flight, or freeze response. This response could lead to increased muscle tension , which may cause headaches.
Signs And Symptoms Of Stress Headaches
People who experience stress headaches can also experience other symptoms alongside the pain. Here are some of the other symptoms one can feel when afflicted with this type of headache:
- Muscle tension and aches. People who suffer from this type of headache often feel a hardening or aching of the muscles mainly in their shoulders and neck. The muscle pain often precedes the headache and can continue even after the headache has subsided.
- Just like with migraine headaches, people with this type of headache can also experience sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds. The sensitivity normally occurs alongside the headache, but in some cases of chronic stress headaches, it can also occur in between headache episodes.
- Poor concentration. While these types of headaches arent usually debilitating, the dull pain felt by people suffering from this condition can break their concentration and stop them from performing everyday activities properly.
- Trouble with sleeping. People who are under a lot of stress may have a hard time winding down at night. Add the pain of a headache, and that makes falling asleep and staying asleep even more difficult.
- Fatigue and irritability. The combination of stress, muscle pain, and lack of sleep experienced alongside a headache like this can cause a person to feel tired and irritable.
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Chiropractic Care As A Relief Technique For Tension Headaches
Chiropractic Care is also an excellent way to help relieve painful tension headaches.
There are many Chiropractic Treatments that are beneficial for alleviating headaches such as:
- Spinal Manipulations
- Instrument-Assisted Techniques
- Relaxation Methods
If you live in Florida and would like to visit with an excellent team of Chiropractic Doctors, contact Florida Spine and Injury today.
Click the link below for a Free Consultation.