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Q: Why does stress give me headaches?

Posted October 02, 2013 in Advice Column, Urbandale

A: We’ve all had a headache or two (or many) in our lives. We deal with these in our own way, whether it’s by taking ibuprofen, relaxing, getting a massage or working out. So what about that headache you get at the base of the skull when you’re under emotional or physical stress?

Have you ever caught yourself clenching your jaw when dealing with a stressful work day or troubles in your home life, and you didn’t even realize you were doing it? When you’ve been clenching your jaw for a long time you get pain in your temples because the muscles in that area have been working hard to keep the jaw closed even though you weren’t thinking about it.

The same thing is happening at the back of your head in a tension headache. When you’re stressed the muscles that attach your neck to the base of the skull are becoming overstressed, even though you’re not consciously tightening those muscles. This excess tension on those muscles can lead to headaches and neck pain. The same thing can happen when you’re sitting at a computer screen or desk with less-than-perfect posture for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, we can’t ignore the pain, and some stress in our lives is inevitable. Recent studies have shown that chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to relieve the intensity of tension headaches and make them less frequent, thus reducing the need for pain medication, and missed work.

Information provided by Dr. Greg Pray, DC, owner, Mid Iowa Chiropractic, 8088 Douglas Ave., Urbandale, 515-344-1143.

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