Tension Headache Relief, Causes, and Treatment

by Mental Calmness, Relaxation Techniques for Stress

Tension Headaches are estimated to affect as many as 50% of humans at some point in life.

Sometimes, the condition worsens and develops into a migraine, especially for those who experience it often. What makes it a real concern is that tension headaches tend to refuse to go away in some people.

Indeed, statistics show that about 3% of the affected have long-standing daily tension headaches.

Fortunately, tension headache doesn’t have to be a lasting bother, thanks to the existence of countless reliefs for the problem.

Before we look at what you can do to get rid of the stubborn ailment, let’s briefly try to understand illness.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

What is a tension headache?

Rated as the commonest type of headache, tension headache (also called stress headache) is generally a mild/moderate pain felt in your head.

On other occasions, one feels a discomforting tightness around the head. This type of headache may also trigger throbbing pain either on one/both sides of the head.

Types of Tension headaches

  • Chronic tension headaches: This is when your headaches are a daily occurrence for more than 15 days in a single month, and for several months.
  • Episodic tension headaches: Less frequent headaches are classified as episodic. They typically take anything from 30 minutes up to a week.

Symptoms of tension headache

Well, symptoms do vary from person to person. However, there are a couple of unmistakable tell-tale signs in all affected individuals.

For instance:You may endure bouts of faint pain in the forehead.

  • You feel unending pressure, again in and around the forehead.
  • Pain/pressure (It can be intense) can also arise at the back of the head/neck.
  • You sense some tightness around the skull.

Now, you don’t have to wait for some of the stranger symptoms like the odd sensations in the scalp.

Instead, seek out the various tension headache reliefs (more on these shortly) if these factors continue troubling you.

After all, every persistent headache needs medical attention.

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Causes of Tension headaches

Various tension headache causes have been historically suggested.

That said, stress and emotional turbulence are regarded as one of the most likely causes.

The others are a plethora of factors, some of which are lifestyle related (and easy to change) plus some more natural reasons.

Examples include:

  • Eye strain because of staring at digital screens, like computer monitors for an extended period of time.
  • Insufficient sleep.
  • Poor posture.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Certain foods such as those with the amino acid tyramine.
  • Infections such as a cold and a sinus infection.
  • Pain from existing head/neck injuries.

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How Can You Treat Tension Headache?

There is a huge choice of surprisingly easy but very effective tension headache relievers and treatment options.

A mix of relaxation techniques, lifestyle adjustments, medical therapies, and alternative remedies all help in reducing incidences of tension headaches.stress and relaxation

Relaxation Techniques for Tension Headache Relief

There are plenty of beneficial relaxation techniques that work in calming the headache by reducing the anxiety that could be triggering it.  To ease your illness:

  • Listen to cool music

Relaxing to your favorite music works like a charm.

  • Engage in tension headache massage

Though often overlooked, an immersive massage can uniquely stimulate and powerfully heal your headache.

You place your thumbs on the cheekbones very near your ears. Using your fingertips, you then apply pressure gently to the temples (also rub them).

From there, you slowly move your fingers upwards, along the hairline while massaging the whole forehead and scalp (until the fingers meet at mid-forehead).

Eventually this releases the built-up tension and eases the headache.

  • Practice Biofeedback

Another super effective relaxation therapy is biofeedback.

This research-based remedy involves sessions that in the long run lead to offsetting muscle tension from the numerous tension headache relief pressure points.

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  • Meditate

Also an underrated but immensely effective tension headache reliever, meditation utilizes strategies such as mindfulness to alleviate underlying stress.

This mind-body technique brings calmness and balance by offsetting tension and anxiety.

A meditation session can take as little as a few minutes or a couple of hours depending on the seriousness.

  • Do some Exercises

Exercise helps, too. You can commence with simple breathing exercise and see how it pans out.

Swimming can also be great as part of an exercise program.

  • Visualize a Relaxing Mental image

Visualization or mental imagery relaxation is all about picturing an inspirational person, peaceful place, or happy times and makes one feel at peace and joyful.

This removes stress and hence the tension headache.

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  • Enjoy Yoga

Yoga may also work to lower the intensity of headaches attacking you.

It achieves this by relaxing concerned muscles in your back, head, and neck besides improving your posture.

  • Cold And Hot Packs

Ice and heat can be equally fruitful in lessening the pain of tension headaches.

Warm packs are more popular among sufferers of this class of headaches and are positioned either on the neck and the back of the head.

As a matter of fact, sometimes it only takes a hot shower to kill a tension headache.

woman jumping up

Lifestyle adjustments

Though not always easy, tweaking your lifestyle may address some of the notorious root causes of the condition and could be the answer to chronic tension headaches.

Sometimes you even have to change your surroundings and habits so as to receive the huge benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Consider the following adjustments:

Seek to sleep longer:  Getting enough sleep is a known stress reliever.

Adopt healthy eating habits: Don’t skip meals and ensure a nourishing diet.

Abandon sedentary living: Buy gym membership or create a home gym.

Quit smoking, alcohol, and caffeine.

Stay hydrated at all times.

Make relaxation a routine: Indulge in the previously mentioned relaxation techniques routinely.

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Medical therapies

Medicine like analgesics may come in handy when other recommendations delay or fail to produce desired results.

You can opt for:

  • OTC medications

These include over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Naproxen (Aleve), and Aspirin.

It is however not medically sound to take these pain killers for a prolonged period without consulting your doctor because of the risk of developing a medication-overuse headache.

On top of that, you should only take the proposed dosage.

  • Professional Prescriptions

The alternative is the prescription-only painkillers such as indomethacin (Indocin), ketorolac (Ketorolac Tromethamine), naproxen (Naprosyn) among others.

Other medications that are from time to time prescribed for patients are anti-depressants, triptans, Opioids, and muscle relaxants.

Alternative Medicine

In some instances, selected alternative medicine remedies have proven successful in nursing an agonizing tension headache.

Other reasons favoring natural healing is the lack of side effects, much unlike analgesics, plus you can hardly get addicted to these therapies.

Furthermore, alternative treatments are mostly safe even for expectant women and children, again contrary to some drugs.

Potential Substitute Cures For Tension Headaches:

  • Chiropractic Care 

An approximated 22 million Americans consult chiropractors every year. And while it’s not clear how many seek chiropractic care owing to tension headache, it’s clear that it’s a well trusted curative process.

Chiropractic is both drug and surgery free and lowers oxidative stress promoting healing.


  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used for years to recover from tension-related headache across the globe.

The practice entails various actions that stimulate the release of pain-relieving hormones like endorphins so as to eliminate tension headaches.

Latest studies have confirmed that the process is increasingly becoming effective even for other varieties of headaches.

  • Taking Selected Vitamins

Some specialists contend that insufficient levels of specific Vitamins have a hand in recurring headaches.

Most mentioned is the B vitamins group thanks to its crucial role in normalizing physiological and metabolic functioning.

There is the possibility of taking these Vitamins as supplements and in foods such as eggs, cheese, red meat, and more.

  • Using Essential Oils

Essentials oils such as lavender, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Chamomile, and peppermint oils could also prove to be a good antidote to this class of headaches.

Moreover, these oils improve moods, circulation, and have countless other benefits.

  • Herbal treatment 

Tension-easing herbs can also liberate you from tension headaches naturally. Feverfew and Butterbur are, by and large, the most well-known.

women looking up to the sky feeling free

How long will it take to have the problem completely disappear?

There is no definite set time limit that it takes for a tension headache to go off.

Having said that, but for extremely severe cases, most people will report significant improvements even if it’s after a few hours since starting treatment.

How To Prevent a recurrence of Tension Headaches?

The best way to tame a recurrence of tension-type headache is to keep off the triggers. Adapt your lifestyle and try as much as possible to stay off issues causing your stress.

multiple tension headache reliefs

As highlighted, there are multiple tension headache reliefs including alternative medicines.

Now, the best course of action is possibly trying out the discussed relaxation techniques.

You can then test the rest of the identified remedies, gradually depending on whether you are making progress or not.

Then, it’s advisable to consult a doctor before starting off….

This will not only ensure that your headache is not caused by other curable conditions but also gives an assurance that the treatment you’re following is safe for your body.


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