I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many people in the acupuncture clinic presenting with tension headaches as I have in 2019 – between 2-3 week throughout the year. It’s something I love working with, mainly because these headaches can cause so much misery and yet they can be relieved pretty simply.
There is no one exact cause of tension headaches yet there are circumstances that seem to play a part. From experience I think there needs to be 2-3 triggers in place and then they combine creating pain, tightness and aching in the head, eyes and neck.
Firstly there is nearly always some degree of soft tissue tension – the muscles in the upper back and neck nearly always feel tight and tender in people suffering from tension headaches. It can be related to posture – working at a computer all day, long distance driving, carrying heavy loads (like children) and pregnancy for example.
Secondly a whole array of underlying triggers can then play a part. The most common I see is mental and emotional stress, say a difficult situation at work or a recent personal loss. Lack of sleep is another huge factor and I often see new mums and other sleep deprived people complaining of headaches. Skipping meals, dehydration and a lack of physical exercise also seem to play a part.
In my clinic I use cupping, tuina and acupuncture to help relieve tension headaches. Sliding cupping gently with oil on the upper back is great for stiff achy muscles. Tuina is great for getting into those tricky spots – where it might not be safe to use needles or where it can be difficult to insert effectively. Finally acupuncture – on the upper back, the neck and around the body with the aim to relax local muscles and also the entire person.
If you are suffering with headaches remember to speak with your GP if any of the following apply:
- A sudden new headache – fixed in location or with accompanying nausea or vomiting
- Any headache with an extremely stiff neck or fever
- Any headache with confusion, slurred speech or numbess
- A headache that starts following a blow or knock to the head
Tension headaches can also be related to your eyes. If you are experiencing headaches I’d always recommend getting your eyes checked. You can book in for a check up at most high street opticians.
NICE guidelines state that a course of acupuncture may be beneficial in preventing tension type headaches. You can also speak with your GP to discuss alternative options. Want to try acupuncture? You can book yourself in here online at my Norwich city centre clinic. Remember – check your acupuncturists qualification!