Tension Headaches


There are many types of headaches. One of the most common headaches present in society today is the tension headache. It’s reported to affect over 70% of the population. The headache has been described as feeling like a tight cap or tight band on the head. Tension headaches have been called “diurnal headaches”. These are headaches that come on in the morning upon awakening and diminish or completely go away during the day only to begin again later in the afternoon or early evening. This article discusses the pattern of the headache, suspected causes and treatment suggestions.


Causes of Tension Headaches


The pain from tension headaches generally originates in the neck and travels up over the head to the temples and above the eyes. A review of the literature on tension headaches reveals varying opinions as to a true origin of the problem. The cause has been attributed to, but is not all inclusive, of the following:
  • Poor Posture – Working at the computer work space design, sitting in school, studying or reading in an awkward position

  • Stress and Anxiety – Not able to relax with muscles becoming tight and tense

  • Poor Jaw Mechanics – Clenching and grinding the jaw while sleeping

  • Playing Video Games – Long periods of time in a static posture or the flashing on the video screen

  • Biomechanical Dysfunction of the Cervical Spine – loss of movement of spinal vertebra in the neck

  • Myofascial trigger points – Areas in muscles when stimulated or irritated radiate pain to the head

  • Diet and lifestyle


Tension headaches can be aggravated by various activities of daily living to include the following:
  • Noise
  • Sudden Stress
  • Stooping Over
  • Eye Strain
  • Poor Eating Habits or Missing Meals
  • Fatigue
  • Poor Sleeping Habits
  • Degenerative Joint Disease – Arthritis


Chiropractic Care for Tension Headaches


Chiropractic care is an option for care and management of the tension headache. Your doctor will not only work with the biomechanical dysfunction problems in the neck and upper back, but will discuss lifestyle and activities with you. Various treatments and recommendations for the care and treatment of tension headaches are:


  • Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation to the vertebra in the neck that demonstrate fixation or dysfunction

  • Supportive treatment such as ultrasound, muscle stimulation, exercise recommendations, heat or ice

  • Lifestyle changes to include improved sleep habits, posture at work, discontinuance of smoking and use of excessive caffeinated drinks

  • Eliminate foods that can trigger headaches such as chocolate, yellow cheese, nitrate laden meats (bacon, ham, salami), red wines and monosodium glutamate (MSG) (moderation is a good thing!)

  • Massage therapy and relaxation programs such as yoga and meditation

  • Herbs such as peppermint and fever few have been shown to be of benefit

  • Nutricuticals to include a multiple B Vitamin, Magnesium and Omega 3 Fatty Acids (fish oil)


A concerted team effort is needed to control and relieve the cycle of tension headaches. Not every item listed above may be necessary to control your tension headaches as each and every person has different triggers and contributing factors.


The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience in treating tension headaches. Call today for an appointment: (763) 755-4300


The International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine