Dry Needling Can Help Relieve Tension Headaches

What Causes Tension Headaches?

First off – What is a tension headache? Tension headaches can feel like a tight rubber band around the top of the head waiting to snap! These types of headaches are caused by hypertonicity (which is an over contraction of the muscle) in the neck, trap and upper body region. Tension can build from bad posture, stress, muscle strain, or repetitive motion. The muscles bunch up tight causing additional strain or pull on ligaments, nerves and joints. This results in pain, pressure, inflammation and headaches. When neck muscles are tight the tension causes the head to strain forward, which pulls the base of the skull, causing the pain to radiate up and around your head. This straining of the muscles in the neck is one of the main causes of tension headaches.

How Dry Needling Releases Tension

Dry needling is a proven treatment to create tension release in the muscles. It is a highly effective treatment to alleviate pain, hypertonicity, and help to calm muscle spasms. Dry Needling creates a sharp sensation during insertion into the muscle that then travels on a pathway to the brain to induce the healing process. This flow of energy eases trigger points, reducing muscle fiber pain and soft tissue pain in many patients.

For patients with tension headaches, our doctors insert needles into various muscles in the neck, upper back, base of the skull, and jaw. These insertion areas are trigger points that help the muscle reset and release the built-up tension. The needle causes a small twitch or spasm that creates a chemical exchange in the muscle to release the tension and increase blood flow.

This type of therapy is an easy and non-invasive form of pain management. It can be performed in the office by the doctor at the time of an appointment. Dry Needling is not to be compared to injection therapies, such as Botox injections for chronic headaches.

Spinal Adjustments After Dry Needling

Once the muscle tension is released with dry needling, a chiropractor can assess the need for a spinal adjustment. Often tension is caused by the spine being out of alignment. Once the tension is released, an adjustment can be more effective because the spine is not as restricted by the shortening of the muscles. The spinal alignment will help reduce a re-aggravation of the tension.

How Long is Dry Needling Effective for Headaches?

The longevity of the treatment depends on the severity and frequency of tension headaches. If the headaches occur once in a while, or have a particularly acute tension headache, one
session of dry needling may do the trick. If you have a history of tension headaches and experience several in a month, you may need several sessions to get all those trigger points to fully release. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and medical history and make a recommendation.

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