Does tension really cause headaches?
Well...the answer to that question is yes...and no. Tension in the absence of dysfunction does not have to cause headaches. Let's face it, we all have stress and tension in our lives. Hard to escape it. Tension will almost always make your muscles a little tighter. So if you have a little neck problem, maybe it doesn't even cause you pain when you are relaxed, but when under stress the muscles tighten up just enough to cause the problem to become painful. These headaches are very treatable. I'm going to try to tell you how to know if your headaches are related to your neck and indeed treatable. Headaches related to upper neck dysfunction will usually be located on one side of your head. A lot of times they manifest in the temple area or above/behind the eye. They will usually be better in the morning and progress throughout the day or with certain activities. These headaches are very treatable through joint mobilization and proper postural/stretching exercises. Muscular headaches are very common. There are several muscles in the neck and face that can cause headaches. Sternocleidomastoid, Scalenus, Suboccipitals, Trapezius, Levator Scapulae are some of the more common muscles in your neck that will cause headaches. These headaches can be on one or both sides of the head depending on which muscles are involved. They can be treated with trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and proper exercise. The jaw can be a common factor in tension headaches. Muscles such as masseter and the pterygoids are related to the jaw and can be causes of headaches. These are also treated with trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and exercise. Medicine is commonly used to treat all of these types of headaches and works pretty well. The problem is that the medicine only takes away the pain, it doesn't change the dysfunction. Our goal is to treat the underlying cause of the headache. When we approach it from this manner and treat the cause we often can prevent you from getting them in the future. In my next blog I will talk about other causes of headaches including sinus and migraines, many of which are also treatable with proper techniques.
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