Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches that we see at Poke Acupuncture. In our experience the headache is often only a symptom of a larger unaddressed problem that also needs to be treated. 


Causes Of Tension Headaches:

Head Forward Posture 
The main cause of tension headaches is often postural in nature. 
The modern “head-forward and shoulders rolled-forward” posture is often to blame. It strains and weakness the muscles of the upper back and the back of the neck, while tightening the muscles of the chest and front of the neck.   

Emotional Stress 
The emotional state linked with tension headaches is as the name implies: tense, uptight or stressed.  Even though emotional tension can be held anywhere in the body, most individuals seem to carry it in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. 


Trigger Points & Tension Headaches

When poor posture and/or emotional tension are causing muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, little painful knots called “trigger points” can develop in the affected muscles. Trigger points in the neck and shoulder muscles can refer pain to the head. This pain is often described as a tension headache. 

Trigger points in Upper Trapezius muscles (Upper Traps), the big muscles at the top of the shoulders can cause severe tension headaches that are felt in the temple or behind the eye. These headaches are typically triggered by neck tension and emotional stress, and when severe can be accompanied by nausea. 

When the head and neck are held in a sustained head-forward posture, trigger points can develop in the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles found at the front of the neck. Trigger points in these muscles can result in tension headaches that are felt in the forehead or above and/or around the eye.

Dry Needling For Tension Headaches

Our Practitioners have found the use of trigger point dry needling very beneficial in the treatment of tension headaches. It works quickly to help resolve the trigger point referral pain to the head. 

A 2013 meta-analysis of dry needling found it to provide immediate pain relief for conditions stemming from trigger point pain such as tension headaches.

Acupuncture For Tension Headaches 

Neuro-Functional Acupuncture a modern functional based form of Acupuncture is used to help correct the postural component linked to tension headaches. Neuro-Functional Acupuncture helps to improve posture and movement by encouraging weak or inhibited muscles to wake up while helping to lengthen and reset short tightened muscles.

During a treatment for tension headaches dry needling, Neuro-Functional Acupuncture and some form of manual therapy is combined to help achieve your treatment goals.  

An initial treatment begins with a 30 minute postural and orthopedic assessment of the neck, head and upper back followed by a 60 minute treatment. Follow up treatments are 60 minutes. 
Our services are covered by private health funds and on the spot rebates are available for most major health funds.

For more information or to book an appointment please click here or contact us at 4952 7770.

Ryan Samuels
Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Medical Herbalist 


Legge, David, Close To The Bone: The treatment of painful musculoskeletal disorders with acupuncture and other forms of Chinese medicine (Sydney college press, 3rd ed,2011)

Simons, David, Janet Travell and Lois Simons, Myofascial Pain and dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Volume 1  (Williams and Wilkins, 2nd ed, 1999)

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Sep;43(9):620-34. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2013.4668


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