How to Relieve Tension Headaches

Headaches are among the most common reasons patients visit their doctors, and tension headaches are the most common type experienced.

What are the symptoms of a tension headache?

- A "vise-like" sensation in the back of the head and neck
- Pain in the head and neck area
- Muscle contractions in the back of the neck
- Headaches that happen later in the day

What are the causes of tension headaches?

Tension headaches have also been called "muscle contraction headaches." Some causes include:

- Stress
- Mental or emotional conflict
- Anger, either chronic or transient
- Clenching the jaw
- Intense, focused work
- Low blood sugar or hunger
- Depression
- Anxiety
- Acute or chronic sleep deprivation
- Sleep apnea

When medications aren't enough or are contraindicated

Although medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can help, they have side effects. You may not be able to take them if you have certain medical conditions like kidney or liver disease, stomach problems, or if you take blood thinners, for example.

In addition, it's been shown that if you overuse pain medications, you can actually cause chronic tension headaches. For example, if you pop a pill every time you experience a headache, your body eventually becomes used to the medication. If you miss a day whereby you don't take the medication, you can actually experience withdrawal from the medication, which will result in a headache. It can become a vicious cycle.

There are better methods if you want to know how to relieve tension headaches

Fortunately, if you're dissatisfied with current treatments for your tension headaches, you don't just have to suffer. There are other noninvasive and completely natural techniques that don't rely on medication. How to relieve tension headaches? Namely, through chiropractic care and massage.

  • When headaches are chronic

Although headaches can be brief and transient, they can be a problem if you get them 15 or more days a month. In that case, you may have chronic tension headaches.

If your tension headaches are chronic, over-the-counter relief may not be enough. These headaches interfere with your daily life and ability to function. You may need professional – yet gentle and effective – treatment that will show you how to relieve tension headaches naturally and safely.

Gentle, natural "how to relieve tension headaches" treatments

Spinal realignment

Spinal realignment/manipulation has been shown to be very effective for tension headaches, especially those that start in the neck. In fact, it can result in almost immediate improvement for headaches based in the neck region – with fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief than commonly prescribed medications can give.

Spinal manipulative therapy can remain effective, in fact, even after treatment has ceased for significant period of time. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that those who had stopped treatment for four weeks still experience relief that was sustained, versus those who received medication.


Massage is also completely noninvasive, and relieves the muscular tension so often associated with tension headaches. Massage can:

- provide immediate relief to tension in neck muscles especially
- reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of tension headaches
- reduce anxiety and/or anger, which can result in tension headaches
- decrease patients' use of medication
- decrease depression
- help decrease the amount of perceived pain the patient has
- help increase the cervical range of motion

Preventing migraine headaches

Regular chiropractic care, including frequent massage and spinal realignment as necessary, can help prevent migraine headaches from happening. In addition, making lifestyle changes that include eating regular meals (to avoid low blood sugar), getting enough sleep, and managing anger, anxiety, and tension through noninvasive methods like meditation and regular relaxation may also help.

For more information on relieving your tension headaches naturally, speak with one of the experts at Chiro-Med Rehab Centre.

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