Patient Help Sheet: Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common types of reported headaches that usually consist of a dull ache in the head coupled with tenderness in ones scalp, neck and shoulder muscles. It’s often also described as having a sensation of pressure or tightness reaching the sides and the back of the head as well as the forehead.
Types of Headaches
Although the root cause isn’t yet fully understood, doctors have placed tension headaches into two separate categories. The first being Episodic Tension Headache can last between 30 minutes and one week. This type of tension headache often occurs less than 15 days in a given month during a 3-month span but these types of headaches can become chronic. The second categorized headache is a Chronic Tension Headache; this type lasts hours and may continue into several days. Victims of chronic tension headaches occur for more than 15 days in a given month and may last up to 3 months at any given time.
It’s important to note that Tension headaches differ from migraines but can often be difficult to differentiate between the two. Migraines are known to disturb vision can include nausea and vomiting and are usually made worse with physical activity.
These headaches can be caused by a number of items including stress, food, head injuries and so on.
Acupuncture and Tension Headaches
Acupuncture is used to treat headaches through the act of needle stimulation. As the needle stimulates the nerve, hormones such as endorphins are released from your brain throughout your body which then stimulates your immune and circulatory system. Studies claim that this is what relieves migraines and tension headaches.
Acupoints for Headaches
LI-4 - also known as "Union Valley" or He Gu, is the acupuncture point in the “fleshy” area between your index finger and thumb. It can be used to address many conditions, including stress, neck pain, headaches, allergies, stuffy nose, eye problems, toothaches and it can even improve your immunity. This point is also used to promote labor, so it should not be used when pregnant.
Drilling Bamboo- Located in the indentations on either side of the spot near the bridge of the nose where it meets the eye brows. Apply pressure to both points in this area with your index fingers for 10 seconds at a time.
Gates of Consciousness- Place your index fingers at the base of the skull in the parallel hollow areas between the neck muscles that run vertically. Press firmly upwards on both sides of the neck for 10 seconds at a time to relieve headache pain.
Foods to Avoid
If tension headaches are a factor in your life, a list of foods to avoid are:
- Dairy products
- Peanut butter
- Fermented and/or pickled foods
- Meats such as bacon, hotdogs, salami and cured meats
- Foods and drinks that may contain caffeine
If you notice any of these foods aggravating your condition, you may way to remove the above foods from your diet and slowly work them back into your diet, if any of them start causing you headaches, it’s recommended to no longer eat that food.