Tension Headaches

Often, you have no idea what is causing your headaches – they just “come on” randomly.  Occasionally, you will recall a trauma, change in activity or stress levels, or a certain position that brings on a headache.

– Traumatic injury (with mental/emotional stress).

– Poor posture (desk work, etc.). 

– Note: It is important to differentiate between headaches caused by a musculoskeletal issue (tension headaches) or a medical problem (hydration/nutrition issues, blood pressure, vision, stroke, cancer, etc). 

Pain in the head. 

– Pressure in the head. 

– Difficulty performing work or personal tasks due to head pain. 

– Visual, auditory, or tactile auras in migraines.

At Home Diagnostic Tests

Palpation of suboccipitals and upper trapezius (video).


At Home Care

– Treat potential causes, including hydration or low blood sugar issues, lack of caffeine (especially if you are a daily caffeine user), and fatigue.

When to Seek Help

If you are having frequent headaches (more than 2-4/month) please seek medical attention.  A doctor of physical therapy can determine if your headaches are due to a musculoskeletal problem, as well as screen for medical issues requiring a referral to a physician.  If your headaches are accompanied by dizziness, loss of consciousness, tingling/numbness/loss of sensation in any body part, confusion, general unwell feeling, or unintentional weight loss, please contact your physician immediately.


Inspired Athletx Treatment

Tension headaches are easily treated with manual therapy techniques to the muscles and joints of the head, neck, upper back, and shoulder to reduce pain and improve your ability to achieve upright posture.  Your corrective exercise routine will include mobility exercises for your neck and shoulder, strengthening exercises for your upper back and neck stabilizers, and sport/activity specific exercises.  Your physical therapist may also prescribe ergonomic adjustments to your work space.