Adam Sewell MD


Tension Headaches are generally a sharp, steady, throbbing or tight, lingering headache pain. Tension headaches occur often by untraceable triggers. Approximately 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches. While it was believed tension headaches were the result of neck or scalp muscles becoming tense and contracting, researchers have only found this to be true in some tension headaches. A new theory describes interference in nerve pathways to the brain as a more likely commonality of tension headaches. 

Tension headaches can be set off in response to some sort of habitual trigger. Staring at a screen for too long or working under great stress are some of the simple common triggers of tension headaches. Certain foods and beverages can also trigger pain. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are indigestible products that can cause tension headaches upon consumption or withdrawal.

Symptoms are pain which is usually dull and all over the head. A tight, band-like feeling in the forehead can also accompany the pain. Other reports are irritability, disrupted concentration, and sensitivity to noise or light. Tension headaches are chronic if they occur in sufferers more than 15 times per month. Over 90% of women report suffering from tension headaches at some point in lives versus 70% of men. These headaches are most common for middle-aged people, presumably because of the connection to stress.

Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and aspirin can temporarily relieve pain and sometimes outlast the headache. Additionally, doctors can prescribe antidepressants and muscle relaxants as preventative medications for chronic headaches.  Some lifestyle changes may also help alleviate the frequency and severity of the headaches.

Acupuncture, massage therapy and biofeedback have also become viable treatment options for chronic headaches.

Those with headaches may wish to download the Arkansas Pain Headache Journal to document what you are experiencing. Use our journal to document the details of your headaches, possible causes, what treatment you attempted (medication, herbal remedies, dark room, etc.) and the effects of that treatment. This record can be extremely useful during your next visit.


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