Tension Headache

Symptoms by body part:

Frontal Sinus/Cranium (Head)
Acute Pain
Referred Pain
Temporal region (Temple)
Acute Pain
Cervical Spine (Central-Neck)
Dull pain
Reduction in Range of Motion
Occipital region (Base of Skull)
Dull pain
Cervical Paraspinal (Side of Neck)
Muscle Tightness
Chest (Upper-Ribs)
Muscle Tightness
Reduced rib expansion (difficulty breathing)
Scapular/Interscapular region (Shoulder Blade)
Muscle Tightness

Headaches,(Tension, Unspecified) and Occipital Neuralgia

Tension Headaches occur when there is a compression at the base of the skull in an area known as the suboccipital region.  This area is an avenue for nerves to exit the cranium and circumvent the scalp so as to control muscles, skin sensitivity (pain, touch, pressure) and blood vessel activity.  This compression can be caused by the region itself, often due to head tilt mechanisms or postural changes that can cause hyper extension of the occiput.  It is often caused by other areas that may exist as the primary cause, affecting the occiput joint structure and tension of the muscles surrounding that joint.  Typically, these are very easy to treat in office and relief is provided within a short period of time. 

What are the causes of occipital compression?

  • Anterior head carriage (slumped forward posture)
  • Misalignments and restrictions of the cervical spine causing muscle tension and postural changes
  • Posterior and anterior rib restrictions, causing muscular tension in the shoulder and shoulder blade regions that create torsion on the neck and at the base of the skull.  This also changes breathing biomechanics, putting increased strain on the muscles of the neck and thorax, contributing to headaches
  • Rotator cuff or shoulder dysfunction, often causing approximation of the neck/head to the shoulder, compressing the occipital structures

Common symptoms associated with tension headaches(May involve only one or multiple symptoms):

  • Pain at the base of the skull
  • Pain around both sides of the scalp
  • Pain in the temple region and forehead region on both sides
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder Pain (trapezius region)
  • Shoulder blade pain
  • Tightness in the muscles along the side of the neck
  • Internally rotated shoulders and head forward posture (computer desk posture)

How can we treat this?

By carefully diagnosing the cause(s) of your headaches, we can then create a comprehensive treatment plan that will alleviate your problem.   Treatment plans are not lengthy, and can be anywhere between two to eight weeks.  By combining chiropractic, neurological and physical rehab, we are able to retrain the structures in a healthy, relatively quickly manner that have long lasting effects.