Do you know that the most common type of headache in North America is the tension headache? Although this type of headache may not be as debilitating as a migraine, it can still interfere with your daily life. Often we just ‘put up with’ a tension headache or try to quench it with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen.
With this type of headache the pain or tension often starts at back of your head and moves forward. You may feel it start to take hold after staying in one position for a long time, such as when you’re working at a computer. It can also be brought on by increased stress levels, and in some cases by changes in hormone levels (most often for women during menstrual cycles or peri-menopause and menopause).
What are the signs of a tension headache?
The signs of a tension headache may also include soreness or tightness in your jaw, neck, shoulders and a dull pressure pain that can feel like a tight band around the head. Some people can feel it creeping up on them over a period of time. This type of headache may affect one or both sides of the head and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days at a time.
What causes tension headaches?
The cause has traditionally been blamed on tightness and muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and scalp. Newer theories suggest that tension headaches may be caused by changes in brain chemicals called neuro-transmitters (including seratonin). This may be similar to what happens with migraine headaches. Muscle tightness may still be a factor, either as a trigger or as an effect of these changes to brain chemicals.
How Acupuncture treats tension headaches
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats this type of headache according to the particular combination of signs and symptoms that each person presents. Stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor eating habits, and eye strain are all things which are considered as part of the root cause for this type of pain. These factors may also be causing havoc with other systems in your body. We take into account if you grind your teeth and whether you may have slept poorly in a bad position, or if you have been working long hours on your computer.
There are specific acupuncture points to treat headaches, but treatments are also customized based on what other signs and symptoms are involved. For one person this may be more about high levels of stress, but with someone else it could be about long term fatigue due to poor digestion and not getting enough nutrients from their diet.
Along with Acupuncture, we may suggest lifestyle changes such as:
• relaxation techniques (meditation)
• making sure you get enough quality sleep
• improving diet and fluid intake
• quitting smoking
More than just stopping the pain, acupuncture aims to prevent what is causing your headache as well. If you suffer from tension headaches, contact our clinic to see how acupuncture can help you.
Brought to you by guest post Barbara Poczyniak. R.Ac.