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Natural Treatment for Tension Headaches

Natural Treatment for Tension HeadachesA tension-type headache is commonly experienced as mild to moderate pain similar to the feeling of a band tightening around the head. Here are a few interesting facts regarding tension headaches:

  • In order to rule out other conditions and to properly diagnose tension headaches, you must go thorough a physical examination that includes a full discussion of symptoms and in some cases can even require imaging for the sake of accuracy.
  • Relaxation and stress management could be just as relieving as pain relievers.
  • Tension headaches can happen at varying frequencies throughout the month.
  • Jaw or neck pain can trigger tension headaches.

Why Do Tension Headaches Happen?

There are not a lot of explanations for the cause of tension headaches. It is theorized by some that they could be a result of a lower-than-normal threshold for pain. Usually stress accompanies these headaches. Here is a list of other possibilities:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Neck pain
  • Eyestrain
  • A problem with the joint of the jaw – TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

Tension Headaches Symptoms

The most common symptoms of tension headaches are as follows:

  • Feeling as though a band is tightening around the circumference of the head, tighter and tighter
  • Pain that starts at the front of the head or near the eyes, and spreading over the entire head from there
  • They may be episodic or chronic:
    • Episodic: This means mild to moderately painful headaches that happen less than 15 days during a 30-day period. They may last 30 minutes to multiple days, and they have a tendency to become more severe as the day progresses. However, they are not normally the kind that would disturb someone from sleeping.
    • Chronic: These are increasingly more severe headaches that happen 15 or more days during a 30-day period. Pain is always present and can intensify with time.
  • Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, or becoming worse due to physical activity are all issues that accompany migraine headaches NOT tension headaches. However, it is good to know that some mild migraines feel similar to tension headaches.

Self Care for Tension Headaches

A popular option for managing the discomfort of headache tension is to take over-the-counter painkillers. The problem with this is that painkillers only mask the symptoms and do not actually resolve the root cause of the problem. It’s true that natural remedies don’t always provide the quick results of a pill, but their impact on the problem can be more effective and lasting in the long run. They also do not come with side effects or the possibility of worsening health conditions.

Cayenne pepper: Cayenne is a popular option for managing pain and reducing inflammation. The active ingredient in it that is so effective is called capsaicin. It actually inhibits our body from perceiving pain by depleting something called called Substance P (which causes us to feel pain). Multiple different studies provide evidence that when capsaicin was applied topically to the nasal passages, people experienced a dramatic decrease in the severity of headaches. Here’s what you will need for this remedy:

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 ounces of warm water
  • Cotton swabs

Directions: First, dilute the cayenne powder in the water. Then stir using the cotton swab and being sure to cover it with the cayenne. Apply to the inside of each nostril until you feel the heat. This should provide some relief from your headache pain.

Almonds: Eating almonds can help with pain reduction, believe it or not. There is something called salicin in almonds, which is actually an ingredient found in some over-the-counter painkillers. Just a handful of nuts could help mitigate the pain of tension headaches.

Feverfew: Feverfew is a natural herb that is known for relaxing tension and constricting blood vessels in the head. This beneficial capacity can lessen the painful pressure of a headache when it comes on. It contains an ingredient called parthenolide, similar to aspirin, that makes it a good choice for reducing inflammation and pain.  To try this remedy: Add 1 ounce of fresh or dried feverfew flowers to 1 pint of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink a ½ cup twice a day, as needed.

Stretch, breathe, and try to relax: Stress can cause our bodies to tense up, leading to knotted up muscles in the shoulder, back, and neck, which can easily result in tension headaches. Here are a few things you can do to get calm:

  • Breathe: Getting a sufficient lungful of air can help you get the most out of the oxygen you’re taking in. Oftentimes, we breathe shallowly, particularly when we are under stress or feeling pain.
  • Drop your shoulders: Hunching our shoulders is a common response to stress and feeling uptight in general, so taking a minute to relax them back down can help open up your lungs and make you feel more calm in general.

Upper Cervical Care Provides Relief for Tension Headaches

A less well-known contributing factor to tension headaches is a misalignment in the top two vertebrae of the neck. If the atlas bone – the uppermost bone of the spine – shifts out of place even by a ¼ millimeter, it can put pressure on the spinal cord. This can distort the messages being sent between the brain and body, leading to tension-type headaches.

A study revealed that 75%  of a group of 47 tension headache sufferers experienced a decrease in symptoms after three to four months of getting upper cervical chiropractic care. They began seeing results in as early as two weeks of visits with only one adjustment being made.

We use a precise, pain-free method that encourages the bones of the neck to return to their proper position. This does not involve popping or cracking the spine. It allows a more natural process to take place, leading to longer-lasting adjustments and positive results. Our patients have reported similar results to those mentioned in the study above.

 

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