Experts suggest muscles are causing most of the nation’s headaches. According to leading experts in the treatment of tension type headache (TTH), muscles in the head and neck are a key source of TTH; accounting for 80% of all headaches experienced.
As a nation, we’re hugely affected by headaches, which can be painful and disabling. According to new research by Nurofen Express, 50% of people claim that headaches negatively impact their quality of life and nearly three quarters (74%) said they wish they could deal with the pain more effectively.
Not only are they disabling, but they are also frequent, with an incredible 40% of people suffering from headaches at least once a week and 67% experiencing headaches once a month or more.
A TTH headache, which typically feels like a tight, pressing pain on both sides of the head, lasts from several hours to a few days.
Experts in the field have also put the spotlight on a link between the development of tension in the head, face and neck muscles, and a tension type headache.
Julie Sugrue, a physiotherapist specialising in the role of muscle in headache says:
The head and neck have at least 36 muscle groups of which 20 have been shown to refer pain to the head. These muscles are used for many activities such as moving the head, maintaining posture, eating, talking and facial expressions.
“There are a variety of factors such as poor posture and increased neck tension which can result in ‘knots’ developing in these muscles. Tenderness caused by these knots can cause pain in a distant area, which is likely due to the nerves being sensitive. This is called referred pain, and is the reason neck muscles can cause pain to be felt in the head.”
Understanding the cause is an effective way to treat TTH and can help people to manage their headaches better.
Currently, 70% of people wait twenty minutes or more before treating their headache. When they do treat, more than half (55%) report using paracetamol for headaches.
Dr Andrew Dowson, Founder of headache services at King’s College Hospital London:
“Ibuprofen is recommended as one of the first lines of treatment for tension-type headaches in guidelines for healthcare professionals by the British Association for the Study of Headache, alongside paracetamol and aspirin.
“Consumer confusion around headache management and treatment is part of the problem. It’s important that consumers understand that it’s the tenderness in the head and neck muscles, commonly described as ‘knots’, that trigger release of pain-causing chemicals. These chemicals make nerves more sensitive to pain and produce the symptoms of TTH.”