A Pain In The Neck: Tension Headaches

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Do you suffer a stiff neck after a long days work? Or worse, do you get nagging headaches by the end of a working day?

The long hours people often spend at work sitting in one position or working in front of a computer screen can result in muscle fatigue and tension headaches. Also the daily stress of driving or sitting in traffic for long periods can lead to bad posture and to nagging tension headaches.

Tension headaches are often described as a constant pressure around the head almost as if the head is being squeezed by a vice. They are headaches that can radiate from the lower back of the head to a feeling of tightness in the neck muscles, a sensation of pressure behind the eyes, and to tension in other muscle groups in the body eg. the top of the shoulders.

The most common triggers for these types of headaches include poor posture, stress, squinting, sleep deprivation, chronic muscle tightness in the neck and excessive use of pain killers. The feeling of bad muscle tension is also believed to be connected to a dysfunction in the pain sensitivity system in that part of the neck and base of the head.

Chronic recurring tension headaches can also contribute to the early onset of arthritis in the neck, a normal common response of the spinal vertebrae in that part of the body to the aging process. This can thereby increase the symptoms and discomfort one feels.

Common methods for relief of tension headaches include regular exercise to prevent the joint stiffness coming on too quickly and keep the muscles stronger. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication are also a common treatment. However, people with a history of stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, liver disease or some heart conditions may not be able to take anti-inflammatory pain killers. Overuse of these medications can also have a redundant effect as the body gets used to them as well as having a potentially harmful effect on the liver.

Manual therapy is also another common way to treat tension headaches. Deep tissue massages and muscle-trigger and muscle-energy-stretching techniques are used by therapists such as osteopaths to help treat the tight muscles and joints and restore a balanced upper neck complex.

Joint mobilisation and manipulation are also techniques sometimes used to manage more severe and chronic cases of tension headaches. An osteopath can also give postural advice and information as to the best forms of exercise to help manage and control the condition long term.

So if you’ve got a pain in the neck and nagging recurring tension headaches remember there is help out there to sort them out.

Sandra Brown-Peterside
21B Chris Madueke Drive
Lekki, Phase 1
Tel: 0813 069 3970

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