Everyday in my Columbia chiropractic clinic, I have patients that complain of headaches they get later in the day or evening. They vary in frequency from “everyday like clockwork” to “once in while”, “only with an exam”, or “only when the kids are off school”. These are called tension headaches, and they are caused by tight or irritated neck and shoulder muscles that refer pain to your head.
Sitting at the computer for prolonged periods, driving in your car, and the biggie….stress, all can cause these muscles to tighten. Sometimes you may local pain where your muscle is tight, but frequently pain is referred to your head and you get the infamous “tension headache.”
When I ask what do to try to get rid of the headache, the answer is usually drugs (ibuprofen, Advil, Tylenol, or some other kind of NSAID). These drugs can be of help on occasion, but relying them on them at some sort of frequency can be dangerous. This class of drugs are one of the leading causes of trips to the emergency room every year. They can cause liver damage, gastrointestinal damage, and even death.
I prefer to address the actual cause of the headache, not just treat the symptoms. As a chiropractor, I have a many tools I can use to get rid of the headache. I usually use Active Release Technique and/or Graston Technique to break down any scar tissue in the tight muscles/tendons/ligaments. Another key is to make sure the joints are moving as smoothly as they should. Some light stretching, some simple exercise to stimulate the right muscles to turn on, and voila, the headache is gone!
I think treating the soft tissue, teaching proper ergonomics, and strengthening the proper muscle groups is a much better long term option.