If you are suffering from headaches which feel as though you have a tight band wrapped around your head, with pressure emanating from your forehead and temples, then you could be experiencing the most common type of headaches: tension headaches, or as Pain Doctors often call them, tension-type headaches. Of note: research shows that in excess of 70% of people suffer from episodic tension headaches. Moreover, tension headaches generally impact more women and those who are assigned female at birth, when compared to men and those who are assigned male at birth.
Symptoms Associated With a Tension Headache
- Incessant mild to moderate pain and pressure
- A feeling as though something is squeezing both sides of the head together towards the centre of the head
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Tight or aching shoulder and neck muscles
The aforementioned symptoms may be slow in coming on. But once they are present, they can linger for around half an hour; and in some instances, go on for a whole week. Moreover, people who experience long-term tension headaches can feel as though they are constantly being bombarded with unrelenting head pressure and pain. One potential cause could be due to the knotting up of the muscles that run between the neck and head. A scenario which ultimately tightens up the scalp muscles. Furthermore, this muscular ripple effect could be down to emotional trauma and stress. And there are many other causes, these include:
- Neck strain from regularly looking down at a mobile phone, tablet or book
- Eye strain due to staring at a computer screen/mobile device/printed matter, for a long period of time without getting up and taking a break
- TJM (Temporomandibular jaw disorder)
- Cervical degenerative arthritis
- Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders
3 Types of Tension Headache
These different types of tension headaches correspond to how frequently you suffer. The main ones comprise:
- Infrequent Episodic: this refers to experiencing a tension headache once day, once a month, or less
- Frequent Episodic: this relates to experiencing between one and fourteen tension headaches every month for a minimum time-frame of three months
- Chronic: this describes experiencing over fifteen headaches every month over a three month period
Treatments For Cluster Headaches
Here are details of three long-lasting, leading-edge, Injectable Treatments For Ameliorating Cluster Headaches:
Botulinum Toxin (Botox)
UK approved for the treatment of tension headaches: research suggests that Botox (Botulinum toxin), which is rapidly injected via a fine needle, into small muscles around the head, face and neck: disrupts the pain transmission pathway between the brain (the central nervous system), and the nerves which extend from the spinal cord. Indeed, Sage Journals published the results of a meta analysis on the effectiveness of botulinum toxin for chronic tension-type headache. This stated that: “a 79% greater response rate was observed for botulinum toxin A vs controls in improving chronic tension-type headache.”
The science behind this is that if we experience a tension headache, then our body detects the pain, and as a result, automatically releases certain substances (such as neurotransmitters and molecules). And this is where Botox plays an important role. Pain Consultant, Dr Mona Mubarak, a renowned, world-class migraine specialist, who has had extensive experience in neurology, frequently administers Botox (along with our other Pain Doctors), as part of a multi-faceted personalised treatment approach which includes both conventional and state-of-the-art treatments to help patients ameliorate and prevent tension headaches.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger points refer to irritable areas within a muscle. They emanate a band of tightness within the region of muscle itself; and if pressed, generate a twitch within the impacted muscle. Furthermore, a trigger point is not only capable of generating pain in the affected muscle; it can also be the cause of ‘referred pain’ which can be found a long way from the trigger point, such as in the neck or head.
The Trigger Point Injection (which is rapidly administered by a Pain Doctor), delivers a medication (normally a local anaesthetic), into a painful muscle in order to relax the muscle, and reduce the pain and discomfort. Of note, the pain relief should meliorate both the affected muscle, and the referred pain (which can be a long way from the trigger point).
The anaesthetic medication works by blocking the pain receptors (which are found in the nerves encompassing the muscle with the trigger point). This diminishes the pain signals which are automatically transmitted to the brain. Moreover, if the Pain Consultant adds steroid medication to the injection, then this can help to reduce the pain from swelling and inflammation in the tissue surrounding the nerves.
Occipital and Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks
Occipital Nerve Blocks and Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks are procedures in which the Pain Specialist injects local anaesthetic (and in some cases, also a corticosteroid), around the occipital nerves, situated at the back of the head. The objective is to diminish pain signals from these nerves, thereby providing relief from tension headaches.