Tired of Reaching for the Ibuprofen? Try a Massage for Your Tension Headaches!

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache accounting for 90% of all headaches. The pain from a tension headache is constant and it can be diffusely spread throughout one or more areas in the head. You may have pain in your neck and upper back from sore muscles or even dizziness from a tension headache.

The most common causes of tension headaches are anxiety, stress, depression and anger as well as food allergies, poor posture, and improper breathing. Though common OTC pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can mask the pain from a tension headache, they carry unwanted side effects if you reach for that bottle too often. Stomach problems and liver damage can occur if OTC pain relievers are used too often.

More importantly, treating a tension headache with a pain reliever is much like sticking your finger in the hole in the dam rather than fixing the hole. Tension headaches occur mainly because of stress and poor posture that fatigues and strains the muscles that support your head. If you are unable to relieve these two tension headache-producing factors, you will continue to suffer from tension headaches.

Massage can reduce stress and soothe sore muscles. A pilot study printed in the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy suggest a decrease in both primary and secondary headache pain measures with two 45 minute weekly massage sessions in patients with chronic tension-type headaches.1 The patients reported less intensity and frequency of headaches after undergoing the massage that focused on myofascial trigger points.

If you're tired of taking pain medicine for your tension headaches and are looking for a real solution, please call a licensed massage therapist today.

1. Moraska A, Chandler C. Changes in Clinical Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study. J Man Manip Ther. 2008;16(2):106-12.