A tension migraine is a combination of both a headache and a migraine and is caused by tension in the muscles of the head and neck. This tension can result from a variety of factors, like stress, sleep deprivation, and maintaining bad posture for long periods. These migraines, also called mixed tension migraines, are very common and affect as much as 20 percent of the global population. They are 25 percent more likely to affect females than males. The severity of tension migraines often varies for different people, while its duration can last for as long as 72 hours. Some of the symptoms of tension migraines include nausea, light sensitivity, fatigue, neck pain, pain on either both or only one side of the head, and numb sensations in the legs. Tension migraines may be diagnosed by a neurological exam and a CT or MRI scans. Many kinds of treatment have been developed to help patients cope with and overcome these migraines.
Stress can be a major cause behind many migraines. Periods of great stress can cause headaches, which can in turn lead to migraines. Work, school, relationship problems, family, and many environmental elements are all common sources of stress that can overload the brain and lead to a tension migraine. Many of the common factors associated with stress also play a role in tension migraines, such as irregular eating patterns and sleep deprivation. Proper stress management can help alleviate the symptoms of tension migraines. Taking time to rest is important in dealing with migraines. Certain practices like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga all help fight stress-induced tension migraines. Exercise is especially useful for loosening the muscles and preventing tension from developing. Acupuncture is also a common headache and migraine treatment.
Maintaining good posture
Tension migraines primarily occur among people with bad posture. Activities that keep people hunched or with their necks craned for long periods of time commonly lead to tension migraines. Having poor posture also puts tension in the neck. Regularly stretching the neck and back can help relieve any tension or muscle pains that could build up. Doing these stretches during long work periods can help reduce the chances of a migraine from forming. There are also certain exercises that help to straighten the back and improve posture so that less stress is placed on the neck. Physical therapy can further help to reduce any posture problems.
Self-therapy applied directly onto the neck is a simple way to overcome tension migraines. Apart from stretching, placing an ice pack or a warm towel on the neck and alternating between the two helps relieve muscle tension. It is also important to keep the top of the head erect while doing so to assure neck muscles are stretched out and relaxed. A massage is also helpful for loosening up the muscles and relieving any tension migraines. Certain topical ointments are also available that, when applied to the tense area, help lessen any muscle pains.
Different medications can help one deal with tension migraines by relieving symptoms and preventing further migraines from occurring. Analgesics, like ibuprofen, aspirin, ketorolac, naproxen, and paracetamol, are all commonly used migraine relievers. Triptans cause the blood vessels in the neck to constrict and relieve the pain from the migraine. Amitriptyline, velafaxine, and mirtazapine are all treatments for chronic pains. Any other pain relievers or muscle relaxants may also be taken as medications, provided that they have been given clinical approval for use for migraines. The most widely recommended tension migraine treatments are prescription painkillers sold over the counter.