If your tension headaches are making you miserable, it might be time to look into alternative ways of treating tension headache symptoms.

What You Can Do About Treating Tension Headaches

You’re slaving away on an important work project, sitting at your desk and staring at the computer screen, when you suddenly wince in agony. Someone has wrapped a huge elastic band around your head, and the pain is becoming insurmountable. But no mobster demanding ransom is standing behind you. Rather, a tension headache has declared war upon you. As the pain heightens, you reach in a desk drawer, only to find an empty bottle of ibuprofen. Does it even matter? The painkillers don’t seem to provide much relief, anyway. It might be time to look into alternative ways of treating tension headache symptoms, such as acupuncture.

What Is a Tension Headache?

Did you know that a tension headache is actually the most common type of headache? Often associated with muscle tightness in the head, scalp or neck, other symptoms of tension headaches include:

  • Non-throbbing, dull, aching pressure
  • Pain that worsens in the scalp, back of the neck and temples and can travel in the shoulders
  • Pain that is felt on both sides of the head
  • A sore scalp

Unlike with migraines, you probably won’t experience visual disturbances, vomiting or nausea if you suffer from tension headaches, which typically don’t worsen with physical activity. However, you may still be more sensitive to light or sound, although this doesn’t occur very often.

There are two types of tension headaches. Chronic tension headaches can last hours. If your headaches occur more than 50 percent of the time every month for at least three months, your physician will diagnose you with chronic tension headaches. On the other hand, episodic tension headaches won’t last longer than a week and can end after only 15 minutes.

What Causes a Tension Headache?

As with most headache conditions, a number of factors contribute to your condition. In the case of tension headaches, going through stressful and emotional events may cause you to clench the muscles in your jaw, scalp, neck and face, which can heighten pain and other symptoms. Other factors include:

  • Skipped meals
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of sleep
  • Physical postures that strain the neck and/or jaw
  • Alcohol use
  • Caffeine (too much or withdrawal)
  • Sinus infections
  • Dental problems such as teeth grinding
  • Eyestrain
  • Smoking
  • Fatigue or overexertion
  • Sleep apnea (which can be linked to obesity)

Treating Tension Headache Symptoms

“The good news,” says acupuncturist Dr. Wunian Chen, “is that the right medical team can properly treat you and eliminate all of your symptoms.” Many sufferers find that using an integrative medicine approach is best when seeking relief from tension headaches.

Treatment plans will largely depend on the causes of your tension headaches. If emotional stress, anxiety or depression are contributing factors, for instance, then your medical team may recommend integrating meditation and relaxation techniques into your life, possibly with the use of antidepressants.

Analgesics and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to alleviate the symptoms of tension headaches. Additionally, ergot derivatives can provide relief to individuals who suffer from a combination of migraines and tension headaches.

Other alternative therapies for treating tension headache symptoms include physical therapy, massage therapy and biofeedback to correct poor physical posture and improve responses to stressful events.

Acupuncture and Tension Headaches

Regardless of what’s causing your tension headaches, says Dr. Chen, acupuncture can help. In fact, a 2009 clinical review published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that acupuncture is a valuable non-pharmacological tool for individuals that suffer from episodic or chronic tension headaches. Another review, published in the same journal in 2016, highlights the effectiveness of preventing tension headaches with acupuncture.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into different trigger points. These trigger points will vary based on the causes of your tension headaches: for instance, anxiety, poor posture and fatigue can all benefit from acupuncture, but with distinct trigger points.

This is why it’s important to seek care at an expert center, such as Acupuncture Balanced Health, that specializes in acupuncture and harmonizes Western and Eastern medicine together to provide you with an optimal plan for treating tension headache symptoms. There’s no need for you to keep clenching your teeth with pain as another tension headache attacks you and forces you to put your life on pause. Contact us today to make an appointment.



Using acupuncture for hypertension can help relieve the stress of weight gain during the holiday season and help you enjoy time with loved ones.

Beat the Bloat: Dodging Weight Gain During the Holidays

The holidays are on the horizon, and many families are already preparing for festive days with loved ones, socials with friends and co-workers, and rich comfort food. For people who have to be mindful of their health and diet lifestyles this can be a challenging time of year, says acupuncturist Dr. Helen Wang. It is important to maintain a heightened awareness of support tips and methods of treatment such as acupuncture for hypertension to ensure weight gain is not an issue during various holiday meals.

The Holidays – In Perspective

The average American can consume 3,000-4,500 calories in one holiday meal. Even if you are successfully controlling health issues, such as using acupuncture for hypertension or other methods for health-related concerns, eating large amounts of food can be disastrous for weight control and overall health. Add in sugar- and calorie-laden holiday drinks, and you can easily see how frivolous eating and drinking from November through January can more than double a person’s typical suggested calorie intake.

Who Should Be Concerned?

“Holiday weight control should be a priority for everyone,” says Dr. Wang, “but those who have health- and diet-related diseases should be even more concerned about seasonal eating habits.”

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is largely complicated by increased consumptions of sodium (salt). Too much salt can increase blood pressure and raise the chances of strokes and heart attacks, the top two causes of American deaths each year. In addition, people with hypertension who consume large amounts of sugar can create and worsen various complications of diabetes.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition affecting many women. It is a syndrome with myriad symptoms, including weight gain around the abdomen region. Another symptom is insulin resistance, which makes losing weight difficult. This can contribute to obesity or the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Wang says these two examples show the importance of having a mindset of moderation, especially for those with certain health conditions. “That’s because weight gain can complicate some diseases, maintaining a healthy weight should take precedence when preparing meals and attending holiday socials.”

Solutions for Happy, Healthy Holidays

For people who are concerned about weight gain or who have difficulty losing weight because of PCOS or hypertension, holiday food temptations can feel like a disaster waiting to happen, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are options to help combat unwanted gain and lead to a decline in the severity of symptoms.

  • Increasing day-to-day exercise can positively complement meal consumption and significantly enhance the way the body uses insulin. Finding a regular exercise regimen that works for your fitness level and lifestyle is a great way to maintain good health and boost weight loss.
  • If irregular periods are an issue because of PCOS, most women find a weight loss of 10–15 pounds could fix the problem. Shedding pounds has proven to be an all-around aid in improving health, as it can also result in lowered blood pressure readings. Hypertension becomes less of an issue when a person maintains a healthy body weight.
  • Eating a healthy snack before going to a holiday party can offset binge cravings. Bringing a healthy dish to the party is another way to ensure you have at least one dish you can enjoy with your friends and co-workers.
  • Considering an acupuncture plan can help stave off holiday hunger. Acupuncture treatments have been used extensively to reduce appetite and improve weight loss goals. Studies provide strong data that supports positive results for using acupuncture for hypertension, as well as incorporating acupuncture in PCOS treatments.

“Nothing is more comforting than knowing you have options when you’re faced with holiday temptations,” says Dr. Wang. Healthiness isn’t a one-stop shop, especially during the holidays, and most will find they need to custom-tailor their plans for optimal results. Supporting your body with a plan that encourages heart and mind health, with treatments such as acupuncture for hypertension, is essential to enjoying holiday celebrations with happiness and peace of mind.