Tension Headaches

Published: October 29, 2012

Headaches are a major source of chronic pain. Although most people get an occasional headache, as many as 45 million Americans get them on a regular basis. Tension headaches account for about three quarters of all headaches, tend to both start and fade away gradually, and are the result of muscle tightness. When coming from the neck muscles, they cause moderate pain on both sides of, and across, the forehead. Occasionally, tension headaches from the muscles at the base of the skull are felt on the back and top of the head, or behind the eyes.

Because tension headaches are muscular, the same therapies we've discussed in the past that cause your muscles to relax will often eliminate the recurrence of these headaches for good! These are nutritional support, hormonal support, getting at least eight hours of sleep at night, and treating underlying infections. Paying attention to structural factors and eliminating annoying stresses in your life can also help.

To address an acute headache, herbal remedies such as willow bark and Boswellia can be very helpful, especially when combined with natural muscle relaxants such as valerian and Jamaican Dogwood. In addition there are, of course, the old standbys of chiropractic and body work as well as Tylenol® and Motrin. Other prescription medications that can be quite helpful include Midrin® and Ultram®. I would begin with the natural therapies first, however, as I think these are both more effective and much safer.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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