Tension Headaches – Causes and Treatment

hands on therapy manual handling neck pain headaches

Tension-type headache (TTH) is a common condition affecting a large portion of the adult population, often accompanied by neck pain. Understanding the mechanisms behind neck pain in TTH is crucial for effective management. A recent paper in the Musculoskeletal Science and Practice Journal delves into the intricate relationship between the cervical spine and TTH. In this summary, we highlight three key points from this paper and discuss managing TTH effectively.

Key Points:

  1. Clinical Evidence: The paper presents compelling clinical evidence of cervical musculoskeletal impairments in individuals with TTH. These impairments include forward head posture, reduced neck range of motion, and altered cervical motor control. While these findings exist, they don’t definitively establish the cervical spine as the sole cause of TTH but rather suggest a potential link.
  2. Role of Upper Cervical Structures: The paper discusses how upper cervical structures, such as joints and muscles, may contribute to TTH, possibly due to peripheral sensitization of the trigeminocervical nucleus. We need to explore this further to understand their precise role in TTH.
  3. Multimodal Management: Effective management of TTH requires a multidisciplinary approach. It should encompass both “bottom-up” strategies involving manual therapy and specific exercises and “top-down” approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques. The authors emphasize the need to consider patient preferences to improve adherence to exercise programs.

Neck pain in tension-type headache presents a multifaceted challenge. While clinical evidence supports cervical musculoskeletal impairments in TTH, these findings do not establish causation. Instead, they underscore the complexity of the condition. Managing TTH effectively consists of a holistic, multimodal approach that addresses both physical and psychological factors. This approach, tailored to individual patient needs, can offer a promising path to relief and improved quality of life for those experiencing TTH and associated neck pain.

If you are suffering from tension type headaches, please call our friendly staff to book in with one of our expert physiotherapist to help you reduce pain, improve function and get you back to being active.


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