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While almost everyone gets an occasional headache, for some it's a common, if not daily, occurrence. It's important to understand that there are different types of headaches and that treatment can vary according to the type that's being addressed.

What Are the Different Types of Headaches?
headache

One of the most debilitating types of headaches is migraines, which tend to effect only one side of the head. They're often intense and can last for several days. There are also cluster headaches which are felt as piercing, burning pain sometimes occurring several times a day. Additionally there are allergy-related headaches, hormonal-related headaches, and several other types of headaches. The most common types of headaches experienced by people are tension headaches. These headaches are usually experienced as a dull ache on both sides of the head or a band of pressure around the head. The pain is usually mild to moderate, and they're often accompanied by soreness in the neck, shoulder muscles, and scalp. Many times, tension headaches are brought on by stress; however, other factors can be involved as well.

What Are the Types of Tension Headaches? 

Tension headaches can be divided into two main types: Episodic and Chronic Tension. Their differentiation is based on their frequency and duration. Episodic headaches are defined by headaches that occur more than once, but less than 15 times per month for three or more months. On the other hand, chronic tension headaches last for hours and may be continuous. Therefore, if your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for at least three months, they would be considered chronic.

What Are the Causes & Treatment Options for Tension Headaches?

One of the possible causes of tension headaches are due to the muscles at the base of the skull called Suboccipital muscles, as well as muscles in the neck and upper shoulder. These muscles can send pain into your head causing a headache.

The most common type of treatment for tension headaches are non-prescription pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. While medication can offer relief, they also come with the possibility of serious complications such as problems with the stomach, kidney, or liver if used over a long period of time.

Another treatment option is to gently stretch and/or apply direct finger pressure to the suboccipital muscles, which can often bring you relief without any of the concerns associated with medications. It's not uncommon when pressing into these muscles to find trigger points, which are focal points of tension within the muscles. These may cause a momentarily radiation of pain into the areas of your head, which is where headaches are felt. After holding a moderate pressure on these points for approximately 10-30 seconds, the pain should begin to subside and bring overall relief.

How Does Massage Therapy Help Alleviate Headaches?

While pressing on trigger points and stretching your neck muscles is often helpful, it may be more beneficial to receive professional help with massage therapy sessions by a licensed therapist. These massage therapists are trained to find these points in the muscles and treat them effectively. They may also be able to guide you further in your own self-care.face massage

Additionally, receiving massage therapy treatments on a regular basis have been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Reducing your levels of cortisol not only helps the body cope with stress, but also reduces anxiety and depression. Other benefits include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, and better immune function.

How is Massage Therapy Related to the Medical Field?

For those who are drawn to helping others in a medical-related field, but prefer a more holistic approach, the massage therapy profession may be for you. The great thing about massage therapy is that it can be used both for stress management and general health maintenance, and is equally effective for treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions. This means that patients visit their massage therapist not only when they are in pain, but also to maintain their health due to its positive physical and mental effects on the body.

Where Can I Get Training to Become a Massage Therapist?

Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH offers one of the most comprehensive Massage Therapy programs in Ohio. Our state-approved program is designed to prepare students to successfully enter into this exciting profession with much more than just entry-level skills. If you would like to learn more about this program, contact Mark Cullen, BA, LMT, DN, DC at (740) 753-6358 or email cullenm@hocking.edu.

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