Tension headaches are the most common form of headache that a person can get. Not only do tens of millions of people experience tension headaches, but many have chronic headaches – 15 or more days per month with symptoms. What triggers a tension headache? How can you get natural help for your headaches, especially if they are chronic in nature? Read on to learn more.
Tension Headache Triggers
There are several common triggers of tension headaches. Since tension headache usually occurs due to stress in the neck, you will notice that many of these triggers lead to this same type of strain.
#1 Emotional Stress
This is the big trigger for tension headaches. When you face stress, anxiety, or other forms of emotional strain, the body may release cortisol. This hormone readies your body for action. One result is the tensing of the muscles. When the body stays in this heightened state for too long, the tense muscles in the neck and scalp can lead to tension headaches.
#2 Physical Stress
Overexertion and other forms of physical stress can also lead to tension headaches. You may experience a repetitive motion injury. Even sleeping in the wrong position with your neck tilted all night can lead to a headache right when you wake up in the morning. On the other hand, exercise can actually help strengthen your neck muscles and may reduce how often you get tension headaches. So don’t use the overexertion trigger as an excuse to stay out of the gym.
Head and neck injuries are often a precursor to chronic tension headaches. The jarring of the head and neck can lead to misalignments in the upper cervical spine. We will discuss how this can result in headaches a little more toward the end of the article.
Since tension in the neck is the main trigger for tension headaches, you need to think about your posture. If you sit at a desk all day with your head tilted forward to look at screens that are too low, you may end up with headaches. If you often hold a phone between your neck and shoulder, that could lead to tension headaches. Even frequently looking down at a mobile device could cause damage to the soft tissue of the neck and trigger headaches.
Paying attention to posture is critical if you have headache issues. Be sure to set up your workspace correctly so that you keep screens at eye level. Use speakerphone or Bluetooth earbuds if you can’t hold your phone. Try to reduce how often you look down at your smartphone throughout the day. All these little postural changes can have a positive effect on tension in the neck and shoulders.
#5 Eye Strain
Eye strain is one of the few triggers that is not directly related to the neck. If you work in front of screens all day or frequently use mobile devices, this may be contributing to your headaches. Of course, it could also be the angle of your neck while using such devices, so be sure to watch your posture and not just how much time you spend looking at screens.
On the other hand, eye strain can also occur if you need corrective lenses and do not wear them. In fact, headaches are one of the first indicators that a child in school may need glasses. If a student spends all day squinting at what the teacher is writing on the chalkboard, that can lead to headaches.
#6 Excessive Drinking or Smoking
Smoking reduces blood flow in the body, so that can directly contribute to headaches or affect the neck negatively and indirectly be contributing to your headaches. On the other hand, too much alcohol dehydrates a person. Since headaches are an early sign of dehydration, this can be the link between overindulgence in alcohol and headaches.
Of course, avoiding headache trigger is only half the battle, especially if there is already underlying damage that is contributing to the frequency of the problem. If you are living with an upper cervical misalignment, how may this be related to your headaches?
Finding Natural Help for Tension Headaches
Neck pain and numerous headaches types go hand in hand, and there is a good reason for this. When upper cervical misalignments occur, they can lead to inhibited brainstem function and a reduced flow of critical bodily fluids to and from the head, such as blood and cerebrospinal fluid. This can create circumstances where headaches and other symptoms occur.
Take into consideration the example of a 59-year-old man who was dealing with both headaches and neck pain as well as rheumatoid arthritis. He underwent 12 gentle upper cervical corrections over a period of 10 and a half weeks. What were the results? The patient experienced such improvements that he was able to stop taking the medication he was on. Therefore, the researcher proposed the need for more case studies involving rheumatoid arthritis and upper cervical chiropractic. However, many case studies already exist showing the benefits of this safe and effective form of chiropractic for headaches and neck pain.
If you are living with chronic headaches, you may also have an upper cervical misalignment that is contributing to the problem. Therefore, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with an upper cervical specific chiropractor. You might find that this particular form of chiropractic may be just what you need to break away from headaches naturally.