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Tension Headaches: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Man Feeling stressed

Tension headaches are the most common of the four main types of headaches. The others are sinus headaches, cluster headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are often described as a mild to moderate feeling of a tight band wrapped around the entire head, in the forehead, temples, and the back. They are generally difficult to distinguish from each other, but their location offers a key. Sinus headaches are only in the forehead, clusters in one eye and migraines located on one side of the head. It’s possible to have any combination of these different types at one time. For example, migraines may occur together with tension headaches and it’s possible to have other symptoms also, like fatigue and sleep disturbances. This often complicates a clear medical diagnosis, a diagnosis that cannot rely on x-rays or ultrasounds.

Stress is usually what brings on a tension headache. It can be either physical or mental and that can include the stresses of any long workday or just this past holiday season. Not always is the festive season so festive. COVID-19 has changed our traditional celebrations and that can be stressful. Unexpected changes can add to anxiety, grief, or depression, which can cause muscle tension in the small muscles of the neck and shoulders and end up as a tension headache. Contrary to popular opinion, rest is not as helpful a treatment as a brisk walk in fresh air. The best treatment is to determine what type of headaches you have and to prevent them. Most quick home remedies include a painkiller or a gentle self-massage but if you frequently suffer from tension headaches, you may need treatment from the professionals at Bloor Jane Physiotherapy who will assess the cause of your pain. Tight muscles can cause a lot of pain. Our physiotherapists and massage therapist can feel if the neck muscles are tight and know how to release that tension. Gentle manual pressure over trigger points, myofascial release techniques, cranio-sacral treatments with gentle passive stretching and manual traction, acupuncture to trigger points or the home traction cradle called the ‘Neck Hammock’, are all helpful treatments for long term relief. Treatments at Bloor Jane Physiotherapy leave you more informed and knowing about simple tips to make your headaches a thing of the past. Email or call Bloor Jane Physiotherapy to speak with a physiotherapist and schedule your appointment for an assessment and treatment.


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