Everyone experiences a headache at least once, but for some people, headaches can be an ongoing problem. Tension headaches are one of the most common frequently experienced headaches. This type of headache may cause symptoms such as:
People experiencing frequent tension headaches can have either chronic or episodic tension headaches. Chronic tension heads can continue without stopping for multiple days each month for three or more months. Episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month, but can last for a half-hour up to seven days.
It’s important to see a headache specialist if your symptoms are severe enough that you take medicine more than twice a week or if they’re interrupting your daily life. While it’s rare, tension-headache symptoms can signal a serious medical condition, like tumors or aneurysms.
Board-certified neurologist Risa Ravitz, MD, and the team at Modern Migraine MD, with locations in Manhattan, NYC, Toms River, New Jersey, Aventura, Florida, or virtually in 13 states help people find relief from frequent tension headaches.
Dr. Ravitz uses an integrative approach and the most effective therapies available to help you find lasting relief. While you wait for your appointment, keep reading to learn some of the most common causes of frequent tension headaches.
One common cause of frequent tension headaches is a dental habit, like grinding or clenching your teeth. Experiencing or not handling anxiety and stress in healthy ways can make these habits worse.
When you grind or clench your teeth, you place extra strain on the muscles in your face, jaw, and temples. It can also lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Both of these can increase the frequency of your headaches.
Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression, emotional stress, and more, can contribute to the frequency of tension headaches. Since your emotions are linked to your physical body, emotional tension can cause you to experience physical tension in your muscles, increasing your risk for headaches.
Carrying emotional stress in our shoulders, neck, or head, or engaging in activities that increase muscle strain in those regions, like poor posture, engaging in repetitive motions, or poor sleep positions, can be a primary cause of tension headaches.
Additionally, eye strain from activities, like too much screen time or not wearing the right corrective lenses, or physical issues from an accident or injury can also trigger tension headaches. Dr. Ravitz considers all of these factors when evaluating the cause of your headaches.
Things in your environment, like chemicals, weather changes, bright lights, certain frequencies or noises, and other environmental stimuli, can cause tension headaches in some people. Researchers are still working to understand why these factors affect tension headaches, but they believe factors like barometric pressure, physical reactions, or sound frequencies may play a role.
The things you do every day, or lifestyle factors, can also trigger frequent tension headaches. For example, not getting regular sleep, drinking too much caffeine, smoking, nutritional deficiencies due to an unhealthy diet, inadequate exercise, and poor stress management, increase your risk of tension headaches.
In addition, certain medications can cause tension headaches, as can not drinking enough water. Dr. Ravitz evaluates your lifestyle factors to help you identify possible headache triggers.
At Modern Migraine MD, Dr. Ravitz provides holistic personalized tension headache treatment depending on multiple factors, including your medical history, lifestyle factors, personal preferences, and the triggers or underlying cause of your pain.
Based on these factors, your treatment plan may include elements like dietary changes or supplements, sleep changes, healthy stress management therapies, like meditation or yoga, vagus nerve stimulation, or Botox® injections.