What Causes Tension Headaches And Migraines
Tension-type headaches usually are brought on by stress, worry, or being tired. They cause the muscles of your scalp, neck, and jaw to tighten, and that leads to pain.
The exact cause of migraine headaches is unclear. Your genes and environment may play roles, though. You get a migraine when certain chemicals in your brain increase.
Migraine headaches can be brought on by triggers, which can include changes in your hormone levels or bright lights.
What Are Some Triggers That May Bring On Tension
You may be more likely to have tension headaches if you have:
- Eye strain, such as from staring at a computer screen for a long time.
- Pain in other parts of your head and neck caused by problems such as temporomandibular disorders.
- Problems sleeping, such as insomnia.
- Stress related to family, work or life challenges, such as starting or losing a job or juggling too many commitments.
Articles On Tension Headaches
Whether you’ve had headaches for years or you started getting them recently, it’s important to know what type of headache you’re dealing with. That way, you can get the right treatment.
A tension-type headache is the most common headache. Up to 78% of Americans will get them at some point. You might have them every once in a while, and they may disappear within a few hours. Or they may happen more often and last all day.
Migraine headaches aren’t as common. About 15% of adults in the U.S. get them. But they can be much more painful and draining. They usually last between 4 and 72 hours.
The kind of symptoms you get, how long they last, and how intense they are can be very different for migraines and tension-type headaches. Here’s what you need to know.
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Tension Headaches Vs Migraines
How do you tell them apart?
- What do they feel like? Steady, mild to moderate pain that doesnât throb. It can ease or get worse over the course of the headache.
- Where do they hurt? It can hurt all over your head, but youâll most likely feel a band of pain around your forehead or the back of your head or around your neck. The headache does not get worse with activity. Your jaw, shoulders, neck, and head may also be tender.
- Are there any other symptoms? This type of headache doesnât come with the nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, or aura that people with migraines have.
- Do you notice symptoms before the headache starts? You might feel stress or tension.
- Who gets them? Mostly adults.
- How often do you get them? It varies.
- How long do they last? Thirty minutes to 7 days.
Back Injuries And Headaches
Back injuries are known to affect other parts of the body. Spinal stenosis is a condition that narrows the small foramina, the little openings of the vertebrae. As they narrow, more pressure is put on your nerves. This can lead to a pinched nerve and may result in chronic headaches.
Another common back injury linked to chronic headaches is a dislocated vertebra. If this happens, extra pressure is put on your back and neck muscles, which can result in inflammation.
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The Connection Between Neck Pain And Headaches In Back Of Head
Finding the exact cause why the back of your head hurts can be a challenge. Sore neck and headaches can be caused by issues with muscles, ligaments, nerves, or vertebrae in your spine.
Dr. William Blahd on WebMD reports that spinal discs can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve in your neck. This can cause shooting pains in your head or back of your neck. Depending on the severity of the disc rupture, you may also experience weakness or numbness in your shoulder or down one of your arms.3
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reports that muscle tenderness in the back of your neck can also cause migraine-like headaches. This can result in pounding pain in the back of your head or top of your skull. It could also be that dysfunction with vertebrae in your neck is connected with a constant headache and neck pain.4
Schedule An Appointment For Your Neck Pain With Disc
If you have neck pain and headaches, figuring out what is causing the pain can help you get relief. At DISC, our team of specialists at practices throughout the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area can diagnose your condition. We can then offer you relief tips for headaches caused by neck pain.
We always recommend the least invasive options first. You might see improvement with conservative solutions like heat and cold, relaxation techniques or medication. If your neck pain and headaches continue, surgery might be the best option to help you get the relief you want. To learn more, contact DISC today to schedule an appointment.
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How Are Headaches Treated
Treatment for headaches depends on what the doctor thinks is the likely cause. But you can care for most everyday headaches at home.
To help ease the pain, have your child:
- Lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room.
- Put a cool, moist cloth across the forehead or eyes.
- Breathe easily and deeply.
Make sure your child has had something to eat and drink. Kids with migraines often just want to sleep and may feel better when they wake up. A big part of treating migraines is avoiding the triggers that can cause them. That’s where a headache diary can be helpful.
You also can give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Read the label to make sure that you give the right dose at the right time. If you have any questions about how much to give, check with the doctor. And if your child is under age 2 or has other medical problems, call your doctor before giving any pain reliever. Your doctor can tell you whether you should give it and, if so, how much .
Never give aspirin to kids or teens unless the doctor advises you to. Aspirin can cause Reye syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.
If your child gets migraine headaches often, the doctor may prescribe a medicine to take when they start or daily to try to prevent them.
Discuss pain management with your doctor. This might include trying things that don’t involve medicine, such as:
- relaxation exercises
- avoiding triggers
What Is A Cervicogenic Headache
Unlike a migraine, a cervicogenic headache doesnt originate in the brain. These headaches start in a different part of your body, usually the neck or back. Symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Headache that results from moving your neck
- Isolated pain
- Pain above or under your eyes
There are a few health conditions that can cause these headaches. Whiplash, for example, is damage to the tendons and muscles in your neck. It happens when your neck is jerked suddenly and violently, and your neck can swell and compress cervical nerves.
Cervical headaches are often confused with migraines. Dr. Kang can determine whether youre experiencing migraines or cervicogenic headaches.
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How Can I Prevent Tension Headaches
Researchers have yet to uncover how to prevent all headaches. If you experience chronic tension-type headaches or frequent tension-type headaches certain medications may stop some headaches before they start. These are antidepressants such as amitriptyline or venlafaxine or duloxetine. These work on the pain centers in the brain.
Overall, lifestyle changes and reducing your response to stress is the best way to prevent tension headaches. The most effective stress management tool is the one that fits into your life and you feel good using. You may want to try:
- Massage therapy.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
Some headaches may be a sign of a more serious illness. Seek medical help right away for any of the following:
- This is the first headache you have ever had in your life and it interferes with your daily activities.
- Your headache comes on suddenly and is explosive or violent. This kind of headache needs medical attention right away. It may be due to a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Your headache is “the worst ever,” even if you regularly get headaches.
- You also have slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss with your headache.
- Your headache gets worse over 24 hours.
- You also have a fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting with your headache.
- Your headache occurs with a head injury.
- Your headache is severe and just in one eye, with redness in that eye.
- You just started getting headaches, especially if you are older than 50.
- Your headaches are associated with vision problems, pain while chewing, or weight loss.
- You have a history of cancer or immune system problem and develop a new headache.
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Pain In Base Of Skull: What Headache At Base Of Skull Means
Pain or headaches at the base of your skull are often the result of tight muscles in the back of your neck due to tension, stress, or fatigue. Pain in back of head at the base of skull can also be caused by a herniated cervical disc or injury to your upper neck. Sometimes, the headaches that start at the base of the skull can be tension headaches, cluster headaches, or cervicogenic headaches.
Pain in the back of your head at the base of your skull can cause your head to hurt with dull, nagging persistent pains. If you have a trapped nerve in your cervical spine, you may experience sharp jabbing pains that radiate to your temples or behind your eye. Headaches at the back of your neck can also cause pain that travels down your spine. Neck pain at the base of your skull may also result in shoulder pain, back pain, or tingling in your arms.
In most cases, the neck pain and headaches at the back of your head go away when you get proper rest or apply home remedies. For example, applying a heat or cold pack, getting a neck or shoulder massage, or using essential oils can help to relieve a stiff neck that causes headaches.
In this article, you will find out what it means if you have a headache in the back of your head and neck. You will also find helpful ways to alleviate the pressure and tension at the base of your skull. In some cases, if the pain doesnt go away, you should see a doctor.
How Can You Relieve Tension Headache Pain
Here are some tips to help you manage the cause of your tension headaches:
- Get an eye exam. If youre straining to read, or keep tilting your head up and down to use those off-the-shelf glasses, you may need a new pair of glasses.
- Redesign your workstation. Simply raising your computer monitor or getting a document stand can help reduce repeated head tilting that can strain the occipital muscles.
- Avoid slouching and practice good posture. Consider trying yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. All of these disciplines are great forms of exercise and all can help to improve posture. Also, you may want to consult a physical therapist, chiropractor, or movement therapist for exercises that are tailored to your need.
- Get a 30-minute massage that concentrates on the neck and upper back. This can help relax your muscles and relieve your headache pain.
- Try applying a hot pack to the base of the head. Do this for 15-20 minute intervals.
- Stuff two tennis balls into a sock and tie it off tightly. Lie on your back on the floor. Place the tennis balls under the base of your skull and allow your head to compress against them. Gently rock your head back and forth and side to side for a few minutes.
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Treating Headaches Caused By Poor Posture
Headaches caused by poor posture can be treated immediately with acetaminophen. In the long term, you can treat or try to prevent these headaches by improving your posture. Purchase an ergonomic work chair with good lumbar support, and sit with both feet on the ground.
Post Lumbar Puncture Headache
If you’ve recently received a lumbar puncture for diagnosis or for spinal anesthesia, be on the lookout for a post lumbar puncture headache. They occur in 10 – 30% of those who undergo the procedure and can infrequenty lead to seizures and other serious complications. If you’re experiencing a frontal headache that radiates to the neck and shoulders along with back pain and nausea, a post lumbar puncture headache is a likely diagnosis. Contact your physician or provider who performed the lumbar puncture. Resting in a comfortable position and pain medication are the first courses of treatment. If relief is not achieved additional procedures such as an epidural blood patch may be necessary.
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Caffeine Myth No : Caffeine Increases The Risk Of Osteoporosis Heart Disease And Cancer
Moderate amounts of daily caffeine — about 300 milligrams, or three cups of coffee — apparently cause no harm in most healthy adults. Some people are more vulnerable to its effects, however. That includes such people as those who have high blood pressure or are older. Here are the facts:
We’ve Divided These Causes Into Five Categories As Follows
- Low risk: Easily managed with over-the-counter medications or by avoiding the known stimulus.
- Low-medium risk: Usually managed as an outpatient by your doctor with prescription medication.
- Medium risk: May require an ED visit or hospitalization. Prescription medication usually needed.
- Medium-high risk: Hospitalization or urgent intervention needed, usually not life-threatening if appropriately treated.
- High risk: Serious and potentially lethal complications possible emergent intervention needed Intensive Care Unit care often needed.
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Why Does The Back Of My Head Hurt
If you have pain in the back of your head, youâd probably enjoy some relief. To find a long-lasting fix, you need to find the root of the problem. From poor posture to different types of specific headaches, the back of your head may hurt due to one of these causes.
Tension headache: This is the most common type of headache. It happens when the muscles in your scalp and neck tighten. This causes pain on the sides and back of your head. Usually itâs a dull pain that doesnât throb.
A tension headache isnât a sign of another medical issue. Still, it can be painful. Some people say that it feels like a vise is squeezing their head.
There are two types of tension headaches:
- Episodic: Itâs often called a stress headache because it comes on when youâre stressed, anxious, hungry, angry, depressed, or tired.
- Chronic: This kind of headache happens more than 15 times a month for at least 3 months. The pain is almost always there, though it may vary over the course of a day. You may also feel a little bit queasy when you have one.
You can treat most tension headaches with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant, which can also act as a painkiller.
Standing or sitting up straight can help relieve headaches from poor posture. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help as well. In some cases, you may need physical therapy.
What Causes A Head Injury
There are several causes of head injuries. You may get injured playing a sport or activity. Certain jobs, such as construction, contain risk of a head injury. Children or elderly people may fall around the house and get hurt. Severe head injuries are most likely to occur in a car, motorcycle, or bicycle wreck.
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What Are Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are dull pain, tightness, or pressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck. Some people say it feels like a clamp squeezing their skull. Theyâre also called stress headaches, and theyâre the most common type for adults.
There are two types:
- Episodic tension headaches happen fewer than 15 days per month.
- Chronic tension headaches happen more than 15 days a month.
These headaches can last 30 minutes to a few days. The episodic kind usually starts slowly, often in the middle of the day.
Chronic ones come and go over a longer period of time. The pain may get stronger or ease up through the day, but itâs almost always there.
Although your head hurts, tension headaches usually don’t keep you from your daily activities, and they donât affect your vision, balance, or strength.
Where does it hurt?
This type of headache can:
- Start at the back of your head and spread forward
- Become a band of dull pressure or squeezing pain around your entire head
- Affect both sides of your head equally
- Make the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and jaw feel tight and sore
Caffeine Myth No : Caffeine Is Likely To Cause Insomnia
Your body quickly absorbs caffeine. But it also gets rid of it quickly. Processed mainly through the liver, some caffeine does stick around in the body for several hours. But for most people, a cup of coffee or two in the morning won’t interfere with sleep at night.
Consuming caffeine later in the day, however, can interfere with sleep. If you’re like most people, your sleep won’t be affected if you don’t consume caffeine at least six hours before going to bed. Your sensitivity may vary, though, depending on your metabolism and the amount of caffeine you regularly get. People who are more sensitive may not only experience insomnia but also have caffeine side effects of nervousness and gastrointestinal upset.
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