By Molly Coventry, Physiotherapist

Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headaches experienced by people worldwide. While they may not be as severe as migraines, tension headaches can still significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. These headaches are characterised by a dull, aching pain that typically affects both sides of the head. They often feel like a tight band or pressure around the forehead, temples, or the back of the head and neck. Unlike migraines, tension headaches are not usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.

Several factors can contribute to the development of tension headaches, including:

  1. Muscular Tension: Prolonged tension or tightness of the muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders can trigger tension headaches. Poor posture, repetitive motions, and stress-induced muscle tension are common culprits.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress, anxiety, and psychological factors can exacerbate muscle tension and contribute to the onset of tension headaches.
    Poor Ergonomics: Spending long hours in front of a computer or engaging in activities that strain the neck and shoulder muscles can lead to muscular imbalances and trigger tension headaches.
  3. Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding: Bruxism, or the habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, can strain the muscles in the jaw and contribute to tension headaches.
tension headaches physio treatment

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  1. Tenderness in the scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles
  2. Mild to moderate sensitivity to light and noise
  3. Fatigue and irritability
  4. Difficulty concentrating
  5. Tightness or stiffness in the neck and shoulders

Treatment from a trained physiotherapist plays a crucial role in helping manage and alleviate tension headaches. Here are some effective strategies:

  1. Manual Therapy: Techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and joint mobilization can help release tension in the muscles and improve circulation, providing relief from tension headaches.
  2. Posture Correction: Addressing poor posture and ergonomics, especially during work or activities that involve prolonged sitting or repetitive movements.
  3. Relaxation Techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and muscle tension.
  4. Exercise Prescription: Prescription of stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility, posture, and muscle balance, reducing the risk of tension headaches.
  5. Stress Management: Providing guidance on stress management techniques such as time management, stress-reducing activities, and cognitive-behavioral strategies to help cope with stress

Tension headaches can be debilitating, but with the right approach, they can be effectively managed and alleviated. The comprehensive treatment from a physiotherapist will address the underlying causes of tension headaches and empowers patients to take control of their symptoms. By combining manual therapy, posture correction, relaxation techniques, exercise prescription, and stress management strategies, physiotherapists can help patients experience lasting relief from tension headaches and improve their overall quality of life.

To make an appointment, call our Claremont physio clinic on (08) 9384 1555 or our Nedlands physio clinic on (08) 6389 2947.

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