Are you feeling dull pain, or tightness and pressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck which triggers after stressful day or lack of sleep and irregular food routine?
Then you might be suffering from one of the most common forms of headache in adulthood, “Tension Headache”.
A tension type headache is generally a mild to moderate pain which is described as feeling like tight band around the head. This type of headache is a very common presentation in clinical practice, but it’s exact causes aren’t well understood. Tension type headaches can be managed with proper lifestyle, finding an non drug treatment and more holistic approach and use of medicines appropriately. Only relying on pain killers for this common yet so distressing complaint will not be sustainable for long. This complaint can be addressed with treatment protocols prescribed by Ayurveda, one of the oldest systems of Medical sciences which has its roots in India.
There is no single cause for tension headaches. Only the triggering factors are identified. Though the head hurts, tension headaches most of the times do not disturb day to day activities.
- Emotional stress due to work, family, and other reasons
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not getting enough rest for eyes
- Extreme tiredness
- Irregular eating habits or skipping meals regularly
- Poor sitting and sleeping postures
Common symptoms of tension headache
- Mild to moderate pain or pressure in front of head or around the neck
- Disturbance in sleeping
- Starts at the back of the neck and spreads forward
- Affects both sides of the head
- There is no muscle weakness or blurred vision or vomiting sensation
Types of tension head aches
- Episodic tension headaches- This form of headaches mostly starts slowly, often in the middle of the day. This happens fewer than 15 days in a month and lasts only for 30 minutes to a week. These type of frequent tension -type headache over period of time can become chronic.
- Chronic tension headaches – This happens more than 15 days a month. Chronic ones come and go over a long duration of time. The pain may become stronger over the day or might ease up after taking rest or medicines to reduce pain
HOW IS TENSION HEADACHE DIFFERENT FROM MIGRAINE HEADACHE
At times it becomes difficult to differentiate between Tensions type headache and Migraine headache. If the headache is frequent and episodic, that could be Migraine headache. But, unlike some forms of Migraine, tension type of headaches usually isn’t associated with visual disturbances, nausea or vomiting. In many instances physical activities typically aggravates migraine headache, but it doesn’t make Tension type headache pain worse. An increased sensitivity to either light or sound can occur with a tension -type headache, but this isn’t a common presentation.
Therefore, it is highly necessary to differentiate between these two common type of headaches with necessary laboratory and Imaging technology to arrive at a proper diagnosis, so that treatment can be planned accordingly.
When to see a doctor
Take an appointment with doctor if you observe any of the following:
If the headaches are disrupting your day-to-day activities
Your headaches are severe and only relieved my taking medication for longer time.
If the headaches last for more a week or happens twice a week and that is making life difficult.
Diagnosis of Tension headache
The first important thing is to differentiate between Tension headache and migraine and from different other forms of headaches which commonly affect adults.
- Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI pictures
- Blood tests
Tension Headaches Treatment in Ayurveda
- Massage therapy to ease out tension in stressed out muscles
- Deep breathing exercise like pranayama
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
Life style changes
- Getting enough sleep
- Limiting the stress levels
- Exercise regularly for atleast 30 minutes
- Correcting the sitting, standind and sleeping postures
- Hydrating enough
- Consuming balanced meals and eating it regularly
- Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Maintaining a diary to keep a record on what causes and what triggers headaches
Ayurveda understanding of Tension headaches / Tension Headaches Treatment in Ayurveda
Though we do not find direct reference regarding tension headaches, but we can find references regarding different types of headaches under the heading of shirashoola.
From the perspective of causes and pathogenesis – Stress, sleeplessness or sleep deprivation, anxiety, tiredness, irregular eating habits or skipping meals (regularly or habitually) and poor postures – all these are vata aggravating factors. One or more of these causative factors will eventually lead to aggravation of vata. This vata will cause tension headache.
From the perspective of symptoms – The symptoms of tension headache also point out towards involvement of vata.
From the perspective of types – Episodic tension headache points out towards involvement of pitta since it characteristically occurs during mid day. Vata is invariably the causative dosha. Chronic types of tension headaches are also caused or triggered by vata.
Conditions to consider – Tension headache can be correlated to Vataja Shirashula / Shiroroga. Vataja Shirashula is often compared to ‘neuralgic headache’ or ‘nervous headache’.
Tension headaches shall be treated on the lines of treating Vataja Shirashula.
Vataja Shiroroga or Shirashula presents in 3 forms according to Master Vagbhata. They are –
- Vataja Shiroroga (tension headache)
- Ardhavabhedaka (hemicrania or migraine) and
- Shirastapa (symptoms involve head and the entire body, episodic tension headache)
So tension headache can also be treated on the lines of treating ardhavabhedaka.
Treatment principles of Vataja Shiroroga include –
- Treatment principles of vata vyadhi – including snehana, swedana, taila / ksheera dhara, basti etc
- Use of milk as drink or after drink
- Oral consumption of ghee and oil
- Murdni Taila – oil therapies over the head like shirodhara, shirovasti etc
- Nasya – using ksheerabala taila 101, brihat panchamula siddha ksheera etc
- Upanaha – poultices
- Snaihika dhumapana
- Anti-vata foods and lifestyle changes
Note: Basti, Nasya, Virechana are included under Panchakarma therapies of Ayurveda.
Yoga and meditation would help if included.
Medicines frequently used
- Pathyaksha Dhatryadi Kashayam
- Gandharvahastadi Kashayam
- Gandharvahastadi Eranda Taila
- Shirashuladi Vajra Rasa
- Brahmi Vati
- Bala Ghrta
- Ashwagandha Ghrta
- Brahmi Ghrta
- Kalyanaka Ghrta
- Saraswata Ghrta
Though Tension type headaches and Migraine headaches look similar, they need to be differentiated from one another for proper treatment. When treatment is taken from the Best Panchakarma treatment Centre, the result will be good as the disease would be understood completely and treatment suggested will be comprehensive. As Ayurveda has always believed in looking at diseases and patient’s health holistically, it would be a correct choice to look up to Ayurvedic Treatment for Hypertension as these tension can lead to hypertension. And it would be right to opt for system of Medicine for a complete care of health issues.