How to Manage Tension Headaches that Keep Coming Back

How to Manage Tension Headaches that Keep Coming Back

Chronic tension headaches are one of the most common reasons people visit neurologists, and they can affect practically every aspect of your life from work and school to social engagements and hobbies. 

The Beverly Hills Headache Institute is a pioneering facility specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches, and my team is committed to helping you overcome your recurrent headaches. We approach your care holistically, considering you as a whole person. The goal is to reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches so you can enjoy your life again.

There are more than 150 types of headaches, and tension headaches are one of the three most common. This type of headache typically causes pain on both sides of the head, as well as in the neck and back of the head. Tension headaches tend to build gradually, and when they’re chronic, they can occur daily, making it difficult to carry out your usual daily activities. 

Several factors, which vary from person to person, play a role in chronic tension headaches, and it takes time and effective communication to find the best treatment plan. Visiting a headache specialist is a good place to start.

The impact of chronic tension headaches

Tension headaches are considered chronic if they occur at least 15 days out of the month for at least three months in a row. Stress and muscle tension are thought to play a role in triggering tension headaches, and many people who get tension headaches report stress as an important trigger. 

Tension headaches that keep coming back can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, and the lack of quality sleep can lead to fatigue and daytime sleepiness. The brain and body have a two-way relationship. When you’re worried or stressed, you may experience chronic tension headaches, and when you’re dealing with recurrent headaches, it may set off stress and anxiety. 

Many people with anxiety disorders also experience chronic tension headaches, which underscores the link.

Through education, preventive medications, and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to manage chronic tension headaches.

Managing chronic tension headaches

Here are some of the ways we approach chronic tension headache management. 

Adequate sleep

In many cases, addressing sleep problems is a good place to start when treating chronic tension headaches. About two-thirds of people who have chronic headaches have sleep problems, mostly having trouble falling asleep.

A regular schedule that allows you to get the proper amount of sleep (approximately eight hours) is essential for reducing the frequency and severity of headache attacks. Develop a schedule that coincides with your natural rhythms. Avoid screen time before bedtime, and, perhaps most importantly, try to wake up at the same time every day. 

Routine exercise

Physical activity is beneficial when you’re plagued with chronic tension headaches, and exercise that lowers stress and relaxes tight muscles can ease tension head pain. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, which, in addition to promoting positive feelings, are the body’s natural pain killers.

Yoga and pilates are some of the best exercise choices for relieving tension headaches. Additionally, strength training is shown to reduce the severity and frequency of tension-type headaches. Researchers found that neck and shoulder muscles are often weaker in people who experience tension-type head pain. 

Strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles through resistance training can ease tension headaches, and it doesn’t take much — a short session with resistance bands two or three times a week is enough to dial down tension headaches.

Additionally, a few minutes of neck and shoulder stretches a few days a week can relax these muscles and help prevent tension headaches from striking.

Stress reduction

As mentioned, stress is a well-known tension headache trigger. Taking steps to manage and reduce your stress can go a long way in tamping down your headaches. Make a stress-reduction plan, which may include delegating certain responsibilities and engaging in stress-busting activities, such as yoga, meditation, and massage. 


Depending on the frequency and severity of your headaches, my team may discuss medications that can help. Each medication works differently, but most of them block or balance certain chemicals linked to headaches. Some of the medications available to manage headaches include:

Finding the right combination of therapies is essential to preventing and treating chronic headaches. With the help of a headache specialist, you can take back control and get relief from recurrent head pain. 

Getting relief starts with a proper diagnosis. There are different types of headaches, making formal diagnosis imperative to creating an effective treatment plan. 

To learn more about my approach to managing headaches, call my office in Beverly Hills, California, to schedule a visit or book today using our online booking form.

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