Tension Headache Medication"Tension headache medication" is what my patients say when I ask some of them how they treat their daily headaches. What they don't realize is that these types of drugs, even if over the counter, may not be the best answer.
Other aspects of tension headaches that are confused with migraine are that scalp muscle tenderness (called cutaneous allodynia) is seen in both types of headaches.
A tension headache feels like a band tightening around your head. The sensation is almost as if you are wearing a hat that is too tight. Other symptoms include nausea and perhaps even feeling that the light is bothering your eyes (photophobia).
Did you know that the lowest incidence of tension headache is in China? Is is because they practice relaxation techniques in the east far more than westerners?
Alright then..now what?
Tension headaches can limit your ability to perform daily activities.
If they occur more than 2-3 times a week you may be moving into CTTH (chronic tension type headache). This can be a form of
chronic daily headache.
When headaches become chronic then they are a form of invisible chronic illness.
Chronic tension headaches that have moved into daily headaches, may respond very well to low doses of amitriptyline,(Elavil) or valproic acid.(Depakote) Often this is due to overuse of OTC tension headache medication.
If your headaches are more severe, then you need to look at the cause of these headaches...(here we go again!)...stress.
Lifestyle changes in response to stress,
can go a long way in helping with your headaches.
Also you need to look at the possiblity of anxiety and depression fueling these headaches, much the same as they do in
other headaches and chronic pain.
Some providers recommend anti-depressants such as SSRI's. The medications in this class, paroxetine (Paxil),venlafaxine (Effexor) and fluoxetine (Prozac), are generally not an effective tension headache medication. However, if depression and anxiety are fueling the problem then they should be considered. It is important to treat all aspects of the problem, not just the headache itself.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to have massage therapy on a regular basis. Now I am not saying weekly, especially if cost is an issue. But a massage once every month or two can go a long way in reducing stress.
Finally, you might want to consider having your provider do trigger point injections. These are done in the trapezius muscles and usually are quite sucessfull in treatment of tension headache. Over 90% of the time in our clinic, we see that this is related to neck pain and taking care of that problem relieves the head pain.
In any event, you should discuss your options with your health care provider and perhaps consider being seen by a headache expert, to discuss full treatment including tension headache medication. Remember to give all treatments several weeks to months to have their full effect. You did not develop this problem over night and it can't be solved that quickly.