Tension-type headaches are one of the most common, yet easiest to treat, type of headache. Muscle tension, joint stiffness, and nerve irritation at the back of the neck and head can create a dull, steady pain over the forehead, temples, back of neck and even down the shoulders. Commonly, there is a band-like pressure on both sides of the head. The pain is usually constant, non-throbbing, ranges from mild to moderate in severity, and usually builds in intensity. It is very common for people to even wake up in the morning and feel the headache before even getting out of bed! Tension headaches may last from 30 minutes to even a week and are commonly related to stress, poor posture, and a lack of regular physical exercise. They affect both men and women in equal numbers, and are common in children. They can cause nausea and are not made worse by routine physical activity.
A study done at Ohio University in 1998 showed that more than 70 percent of people who experience this type of headache also had frequent disrupted sleep due to the associated neck stiffness or pain. In addition, these people reported that, over time, this scenario created further fatigue and headache-related anxiety or stress. The same studies also found that 44 percent of the people who experience this type of headache said that it affected their performance at work or school and 72 percent said the pain caused them to miss work or school an average of 3.5 days in the last six months. (1)
Over the past few years, research has shown that spinal manipulation - the primary form of treatment provided by Chiropractors - is an effective treatment option for tension-type headaches and headaches that originate from the neck.(2,3) For example, a report released by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication. Also, a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy was an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.
In addition to chiropractic treatment, anyone who suffers from neck stiffness or headaches should be stretching their neck muscles daily, the ergonomics of their place of work should be reviewed to prevent poor posture, and they should participate in some form of regular physical activity. For more information on headaches, neck pain - feel free to give me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Boline PD , Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. “Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension-type headaches: a randomized clinical trial.” Manipulative Physiol Therapy ; 18:148-54.
3. Gert Bronfort, Willem J.J. Assendelft, Roni Evans, Mitchell Haas, Lex Bouter. “Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: A systematic review” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. September 2001 (Vol. 24, Issue 7, ages 457-466).