With tension headache you may wake up with it and go to bed with it, just 24/7 headache.

Common complication of this situation are analgesic medication overuse, sleep disturbance and further emotional disturbance, which then reinforce the tendency to daily headache.

Whatever else is going on, because deep pain causes muscle spasm, in chronic daily headache one has to have tight sore muscles.

First dealing with the muscles involved

Three flat muscles are responsible for a lot of tension headaches.

face and scalp muscle anatomy

Temporalis closes the jaw, orbicularis screws your eyes up and frontalis opens them up – as in it's amazing.

Examining and stretching your temporalis muscle.

Press firmly over the temple, for tender spots in temporalis. They are usually in the lower part of the muscle or behind the eye.

Temporalis is stretched by just holding your jaw open as widely as you can for probably 2 minutes. If this muscle is tender, it will be tight and there will be little risk of dislocating your jaw – but be very careful if you have previously suffered this.

Discussions about muscle stretching often recommend more brief stretches. My experience is that longer stretches are more effective. See further notes on muscle stretching in this site .

Frontalis and orbitalis muscles - most likely in frontal headache.

As well as 24/7 headache, tension headache often has a particular quality. It feels as though one has a tight band around one's head.

Tenderness will become evident during this stretch, if orbitalis is involved.

stretching your scap muscles

Orbitalis stretch

Take hold of the skin just in front of the hairline at the temple.

It helps to put one layer of paper tissue between fingers and the temple. This makes it less likely your fingers will slip due to the perspiration and oil on the skin.

Pull the skin (with it’s underlying muscle) towards the tip of your nose. Your fingers will only move about a centimeter before the muscle tension halts this movement.

Now maintain gentle pressure in the same direction.

After a couple of minutes, you will feel the first slight “give” in the muscle. This will happen repeatedly, and after about 5 minutes you will feel the muscle just stretch completely – by which time your fingers will be just about pushing on the eyeballs over the edge of the eye socket.

This is not easy on the hands, so if you have someone with strong hands, they can do it for you.

If I am stretching this for someone, I usually ask them to hold their jaw open at the same time.

This is only the first step in management, but it can relieve a person's tension headache and so confirm that diagnosis.

Frontalis stretch

To add this stretch at the same time, you need help.

Do the stretch with your head up against a wall, or laying on your back.

Have the skin pushed upwards in the mid line above your eyes, in the same way as the orbitalis is being stretched.

Peppermint oil or (not and) rescue remedy or homeopathic sprays

Peppermint oil as a spray or roll-on, is very useful for immediate relief of tension headache.

Bach flower rescue remedy or various homeopathics are also very good, but they are inactivated by volatile oils so it's one or the other.

Then helping the tension state causing the headaches

The next step is to trace the sequence of disturbances leading up to this point.

Functional reactive hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar is a common disturbance of our chemistry seen in anxiety and tension states.

See chest pain page for a description and management.

Perhaps start to look at emotions.

An affirmation response exercise may be worthwhile.

Now on to neck muscle tension headache

Transformed migraine

Were your headaches less frequent in the past, but now are every day or two?
Do your pain medications work less well and wear off more quickly?
Are you taking some sort of pain killers virtually every day?

You need to have a medical check, if this hasn't already been done. I'm assuming here that you don't have a brain tumor.

You can overcome this problem.

Check a few times for the effect of temporal artery occlusion, when fresh headaches start, as described on the vascular headache page.

Check your jaw joint, your neck muscles, and your rhomboids. Everything you find which may be contributing to your headaches, needs to be treated at the same time.

Careful management of your pain medications will be needed as well. Migraine prevention drugs can be started now, even if previously ineffective!
When you stop using your current relief ones which no longer work well, the prevention ones may work again.

Temporary cortisone treatment, naproxen, and amitriptyline may be useful during withdrawal of your analgesics. You will not be expected to just stop things without help.

Modalities such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, ear candling, massage and reiki are likely to be helpful.

While carrying out all these steps, your focus needs to be on the perfect end result you are aiming for. Picture yourself perhaps six months down the track, feeling really well and starting to get fit again, and enjoying life again.

Use some trigger to continually remind you of your positive end result. This could be every time you go through a particular doorway. This sort of ritual can be very powerful in re-aligning your energies.

From tension headache page to home page.

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