Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches that we treat in our clinical practice. The main causes of tension headaches are often postural and/or emotional in nature. The common posture associated with tension headaches is the modern “head-forward and shoulders rolled-forward” posture. 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.
When poor posture and/or emotional tension are the culprits of muscular tension in the neck and shoulders, little painful knots called “trigger points” can develop in these muscles. Trigger points in the muscles of the neck and shoulders can refer pain to different areas of the head when they become activated.
Trigger points found in the big muscles at the base of the neck (the Upper Trapezius or ‘Upper Traps’) can cause severe tension headaches on one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea and neck pain. These headaches are often mistaken for migraines.
When the head and neck are held in a sustained head-forward posture, trigger points can develop in the 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 the eye.
The treatment of tension headaches by one of our acupuncturists may include:
Using acupuncture to release tight or overloaded muscles of the shoulders, neck and head.
Stimulating weak muscles with acupuncture techniques and exercises.
Addressing underlying stress and emotional problems with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Correcting poor posture with exercise, taping, and postural awareness techniques.
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Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Herbalist