A tension headache is the most common kind of headache which can be caused by several factors such as stress, lack of sleep, skipping meals, neck or jaw problem and poor posture. Also known as muscle-spasm headache, it is often difficult to ascertain the cause of such a headache. Overworked muscles cause pain in the back of the head which moves upward putting pressure on the neck, face and head as well. A tension headache that reoccurs for 15 days or more is a chronic tension headache while episodic tension headaches are those that occur less frequently.
Signs and symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of a tension headache is a dull pressure and a squeezing pain around the head. The muscles become tight and sore and you may face difficulty sleeping or eating.
It is difficult to often attribute the exact cause of tension headaches but there are several triggers such as stress, depression, anxiety, sitting in one position for too long, straining the eyes, drugs or alcohol, overexertion, arthritis, hormonal changes and head or neck injuries.
Tension headaches can be treated using prescription medicines, over the counter medicines or physical therapy. It is foremost important to let a physical therapist conduct a proper examination of your health history. He may also conduct a neurological examination and examine your head, neck and eyes. Physical therapy is one of the most effective methods of dealing with tension headaches. It can help increase neck mobility; improve your strength and posture via specialized techniques and exercises. Physical therapists may use a technique called reflexology to reduce headaches which involves putting pressure on specific reflex points on the hands and the feet. It is also an effective method to improve general well-being and boosts energy levels. Treatment may also include application of heat and ice packs, neck stretches, soft tissue mobilization, posture education and muscular releases among others.
Choosing a physical therapist
In case your headache has been triggered by neck or jaw pains then a physical therapist with experience in musculoskeletal problems would be your best bet. There are some therapists who are also trained in craniofacial focus that deals with movement disorders related to the skull or face. There are also some physical therapists that are clinical specialists and have a vast amount of knowledge and skills related to this matter.