Many people struggle with headaches on a daily basis and your quality of life is affected by pain and discomfort. The causes vary, but the most common headaches are caused by tension. What is tension, what causes it and why do you get headaches? And almost more importantly, how do you prevent tension headaches and how can you treat them?

cause tension headaches

What is tension? 

Neck tension is neck pain that occurs when the muscles in the neck cannot relax, which can lead to pain, muscle spasms and headaches. There are numerous possible causes, ranging from joint problems to inflamed nerves. 

Depending on the underlying cause, there may be different types of neck tension and pain that can be associated with different symptoms. Research suggests that up to 71% of adults will be affected by neck pain at some point in their lives.


What causes tension headaches? 

Several factors, such as genetics and environment, are thought to play a role. Muscle contractions in the head and neck are considered one of the main factors in the development of tension headaches. Some people get tension headaches in response to stressful events or hectic days. 

Some other causes of neck and back tension include: 

  • Poor posture
  • Sleeping in the wrong position
  • Repetitive neck movements
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Injuries
  • Stress


Symptoms of a tension headache include: 

  • Slow onset of the headache
  • The head usually hurts on both sides
  • The pain is dull or feels like a tight band around the head
  • The pain may affect the back of the head or the neck
  • The pain is usually mild to moderate, but not severe

Symptoms of tension headaches may look like other medical conditions or medical problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.


How are tension headaches treated? 

The goal of treatment is to prevent the occurrence of headaches. Good management of headaches depends on reducing stress and tension. Some suggestions include: 

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Eat regular meals and do not skip any, especially breakfast
  • Avoid triggers for headaches, such as certain foods and lack of sleep
  • Rest in a quiet, dark environment when needed
  • Stress management (yoga, massage or other relaxation exercises)
  • Medication, as recommended by your doctor


How do you prevent tension headaches? 

Recognizing and avoiding headache triggers can prevent tension headaches. Maintaining a regular sleep, exercise, and eating schedule is also helpful. If tension headaches occur regularly or frequently, therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy or biofeedback may reduce or eliminate headaches. Talk to your doctor about medications to prevent tension headaches before taking any medication regularly.


Tension headaches are manageable and in some cases can be prevented. At The Back Clinic, specialized therapists use the DBC program – a document-based functional rehabilitation that consists of a 12-week program of various customized treatments on specialized equipment to treat neck and back pain due to poor posture, injury or other underlying conditions that can cause tension headaches or discomfort. This affordable alternative is covered by a wide range of medical aids and has a proven track record. Studies show noticeable results after just the first 3 sessions. Contact them at 063 097 5603 or email

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