Tension headaches are very common and often feel like there is a tight headband wrapped around your head, which is not comfortable at all! Tension headache pain can make it very challenging to go about regular activities and can cause a lot of frustration. Fortunately, there are several ways to address tension headache pain. It is important to discuss all your symptoms and experiences with Dr. DeCaria to determine the best course of action for your specific headache pain.
Keeping a pain journal is very helpful for you and your physician. You may notice patterns in when you have pain, symptoms and triggers of an oncoming episode, and more. This could help you pinpoint how to adjust and get rid of future tension headaches. Dr. DeCaria recommends keeping a 2-4 week headache diary.
Course of treatment will always vary by person. Dr. DeCaria has effectively treated headaches from many different conditions through her unique approach that utilizes conventional medicine, in combination with integrative medicine and functional medicine. The goal of treatment is to reduce the overall frequency of the headaches and to manage any attacks that may occasionally occur. Common treatment plans include the following methods.
1. Stress Management
can be crucial in treating and minimizing tension headaches. Stress is a common cause of tension headaches. Creating a personalized stress management regimen is key to help reduce your pain over time. We often suppress our stressors due to the hustle of our daily lives, and this can cause built up tension and pain in our bodies, including tension headaches. Incorporating relaxation or meditation as a part of your stress management can contribute to long term relief as well.
2. Lifestyle Adjustments
We sometimes get caught up in our day to day lives and forget the importance of our basic needs. When you have a tension headache, take a moment to stop and ask yourself the following: am I drinking enough water? Did I get at least 7-9 hours of sleep the past few nights? Have I been moving my body? Getting fresh air? Sitting with proper posture? Giving my eyes a break from all the screens in my life (TV, phone, computer, etc.)? If you answered no to any of these questions, take a few minutes to make them a yes. These are all very common triggers of tension headaches. Sometimes dietary triggers can even lead to headaches. With Dr. DeCaria’s background in functional medicine, she is able to craft a personalized treatment plan just for you to target the root cause of pain.
3. Posture Correction
can vary from adjusting your desk setup at work, to finding the appropriate cushion for your driver’s seat. It is important that our bodies have the appropriate ergonomic setup in all that we do, especially in the common areas of our life that we spend most of our time at, i.e. work desks, bed/pillow setup, drivers’ seat, etc. This is important for our muscles and for our eyes. Minimizing muscle strain and eye strain can reduce the likelihood and intensity of a tension headache coming on.
As an added bonus, chin tuck stretches are a great, easy, and fast way to release some tension! Chin tuck demonstration here
4. Home remedies
specifically, applying hot or cold compresses on your head where it hurts can alleviate tension headache pain and help you feel better. Some people find it helpful to sit in a completely dark room with no sounds while waiting for the episode to pass. Sitting in a dark, quiet room while addressing the lifestyle adjustments above can be the answer to relieving your tension headache.
may be used to reduce the frequency and/or the severity of your tension headaches. Depending on your specific pain, Dr. DeCaria may recommend either specific medications to address the cause of your pain or some supplements that may be helpful. While taking preventive medications, it is important to be cautious and in communication with your provider as overuse of these medications can lead to a dependency problem or rebound headaches if used too often.
For some who do not respond to lifestyle changes, procedures such as trigger point injections and/or acupuncture can be very helpful. Physical therapy can help as well!
If you have been diagnosed with migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, or cervicogenic headaches, now is the time to come visit Dr. DeCaria at our pain management clinic, Revitalize Medical Center, in Glenview, IL and Evanston, IL.
This website (including all pages and blog posts) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. To schedule an appointment at Revitalize Medical Center, please call (847) 834-4018.