Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches and it is estimated that 90% of the world population has experienced them. Although they are quite common and most of the time they do not indicate a serious condition, they are still unpleasant and uncomfortable. Their symptoms include a dull and throbbing pain around the head and above the eyes, usually accompanied by symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and anxiety. Most people who have tension headaches notice an improvement in a few hours and only get them episodically, but when they occur more than 15 days a month, this classifies as chronic tension type headache and it can have a negative impact on the patient’s life.
Unfortunately, doctors don’t know exactly what causes these headaches, but they have been able to identify certain triggers that cause muscle tension and fluctuations in the levels of brain chemicals. Naturally, not knowing the exact cause makes treatment quite tricky and has caused quite a debate, because some experts are more interested in treating the cause, while others advocate for treating the symptoms. In general, people with episodic tension type headaches either let the headache go away on its own or resort to painkillers such as ibuprofen as quick fix. On the other hand, things are more difficult for patients with chronic tension type headaches, because treatment and management involves a lot of steps and lifestyle changes.
Why go natural?
Not everyone wants to treat headaches naturally, but, in the past years, the number of people interested in natural remedies has grown, especially after popular anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen were linked to controversial side effects.
Apart for the fear of these side effects, many are unable to take painkillers because they do not interact well with other medical treatments and/or conditions. For example, women are advised not to take painkillers during pregnancy because they might harm the baby.
Natural therapies for tension headaches
The following therapies may help alleviate tension headaches in a safe, natural, non-invasive way.
Poor posture and spinal misalignment can cause tension headaches and chiropractors perform adjustments to fix these issues. According to cssichiro.com, this method treats the cause of the problem, not just the symptom, so the results are much better and longer lasting.
Although many people go to a massage therapists to relieve stress and relax in general, this therapy has actually proven to be quite effective in alleviating tension headaches. It also eases muscle soreness and gets rid of stress, which is after all one of the causes of tension headaches.
Acupuncture therapy has been used for century and now it is very popular among patients with tension headaches who want get rid of pain in a natural way and reduce their incidence without resorting to painkillers.
Lifestyle changes that reduce pain or headache incidence
Sometimes, tension headaches appear because of triggers that you are causing yourself. By adjusting your lifestyle and taking the time to spot risk factors, you can reduce the number of days you suffer from headaches.
- Improve your sleeping pattern. Lack of sleep or low quality sleep is one of the known triggers of tension headaches and also causes irritability and poor work performance. Try to get as much sleep as possible before midnight and wake up in a gradual way.
- Create a food diary to find out if your headaches are caused by a type of food. For example, certain types of wine with high sulfite levels cause headaches.
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
- Improve your posture. Chiropractors warn that poor posture causes spine misalignment and muscle tension, which leads to headaches. If you have a sedentary job, such as working in an office, make sure you have a high quality chair with lumbar support and get up every 60 minutes.
- Exercise regularly. Activities such as swimming, jogging or fitness do wonders for headaches. If you cannot do them, try to at least take long walks every week.
- If your headaches are caused by chronic stress, consider seeing a counsellor to better cope with overwhelming situations.
- Try meditation and aromatherapy. You can download meditation apps to help you relax after a long day and slowly learn to cope with anxiety.