Tension headaches: The words alone might make you cringe. They’re a common ailment that frequently affects many Americans. The exact statistics are hard to pin down, because people don’t often go to their doctor for a headache. However, some research estimates that tension headaches affect two out of three adults. They can happen to anyone, but they’re more common amongst older teens and adults. Women are also twice as susceptible to tension headaches than men.
Tension headaches can go by different names. Maybe you’ve heard them referred to as stress headaches, muscle tension headaches, and tension-type headaches. Many describe the pain as a squeezing discomfort, like there’s a tight band wrapped around the forehead.
This kind of headache is characterized by pressure around the forehead, and the pain level can range from mild to moderate.
Tension headaches aren’t typically linked to brain diseases and rarely inflict any lasting damage. However, they can still impact your daily life depending on the frequency and intensity of the headache.
Suffering from a tension-type headache can make it difficult to focus on your responsibilities. If the pain radiates from your forehead to the back of the eyes, it can even be uncomfortable to look at lights or screens. Thus, the impact can range from irritating to seriously interfering with your daily life.
Before we get into how you can address your tension headaches using electric muscle stimulation, let’s dive a little deeper into the kinds of headaches and what can trigger them.
The Types of Tension Headaches
There are two kinds of tension headaches. The first is called an episodic tension-type headache, which tends to be infrequent (below 12 episodes annually, with each headache episode lasting from half an hour to one week) or frequent (ranging from an average of one to 14 episodes monthly, with each headache episode last from half an hour to one week).
The second type is a chronic tension-type headache, a persistent and recurring tension headache that averages 15 episodes monthly, with each episode lasting several hours. Chronic tension headaches are not as common, experienced by only approximately 3% of American adults.
The Causes of Tension Headaches
Currently, there are two schools of thought around what causes a tension headache.
According to the National Headache Institute and National Library of Medicine, it’s caused by excessive contraction of muscles in the head and neck. The tensing of the muscles can be attributed to different factors. It can be triggered by stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also be caused by prolonged activity that entails keeping the head in one position for too long, such as working on the computer or driving for several hours.
On the other hand, the Mayo Clinic cites increased pain sensitivity as the primary cause of tension headaches. This is supported by information from Harvard Health Publishing which states that tension-type headaches are partly triggered by how the nerves in the head, shoulders, and neck sense pain and how the brain interprets these pain signals.
These can also be triggered by emotional stressors or prolonged immobility.
You may also have a higher likelihood of experiencing tension headaches if your eyes are frequently strained from too much screen time, if you suffer from neck and head pains, if you’re often stressed, and if you suffer from insomnia and other issues that result in lack of sleep.
A Tension Headache Vs. a Migraine
It’s important to note that a tension headache is different from a migraine.
While a tension headache feels like your forehead is being squeezed from both sides of your head, a migraine is a severe throbbing pain that is typically focused on one side only.
When experiencing a migraine, the pain tends to intensify when you’re exposed to stressors like loud noises and bright lights. In bad cases of migraines, you may feel nauseous and even end up vomiting.
Treating Tension Headaches with EMS and TENS
Most cases of tension headaches can be managed at home with a balance of healthy lifestyle habits and the appropriate use of effective non-drug treatments that best suit you.
Whether your tension headache is caused by excessive muscle contractions or heightened pain sensitivity, PowerDot is a fantastic all-around alternative pain-reducing tool to manage both episodic and chronic tension-type headaches.
According to the National Headache Institute, EMS treatment is best suited for tension-type headaches caused by tight and contracted muscles in the forehead and neck. PowerDot’s neuromuscular electrical stimulation programming sends low-voltage electric currents to stimulate the muscle fibers, promoting the flow of blood and nutrients.
Our trusted technology is used by top athletes to reduce the soreness of their muscles and speed up physical recovery. And because it improves the health of your muscle fibers and helps them to relax, it’s capable of taking on your tension headache.
On the other hand, for tension-type headaches due to sensitivity in registering pain signals sent by the nerves to the brain, PowerDot’s trademarked Smart TENS setting is perfect for you.
At a low frequency, the electrical pulses will induce the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller. This effectively teaches your body how to heal itself and manage its own pain in a safe and natural way.
At a high frequency, PowerDot leverages the Gate Theory, closing the “gates” to your central nervous system and making it impossible for your brain to register pain.
Understanding the type of tension headache you’re experiencing and pinpointing the root cause will be helpful in combating it. And it might require some lifestyle changes on your end — for example, spending less time looking at screens. Combining this with PowerDot can mean getting a handle on your pain.
If you’re ready to take on your tension headaches, shop with PowerDot today.
Learn more about how to use PowerDot to manage chronic pain.