Tension As A Factor In Worsening Tension Headache And Migraine

October 26, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

The stress of "everyday life"

The stress and tension of "everyday life"

Research has shown that as many as 1 out of 10 migraine sufferers will develop daily migraine and whilst factors such as stressful life events, ongoing lesser every-day stressors and depression have been identified,1-6 neck disorders are not discussed.

Clearly significant life events such as divorce, death of a loved one, redundancy etc can cause significant tension for months/years and shortening of muscles in the upper neck can result. Then the stress of everyday life ‘stuff’ leads to more temporary further shortening of already shortened muscles, ligaments and capsules, exerting pressure on stiff joints leading to increased frequency of headache or migraine.

Once the daily stress lessens, headache and migraine eases, but the shortening which resulted from the stress of the major life event/s remains (this ongoing stiffness in the spinal segments is likely to result in sensitisation of the brainstem,7 which is now widely recognised as a key disorder in headache and migraine) waiting for the hassles of the next day, causing pressure on the stiff joints once again and migraine or headache results.

Headache or migraine which is increasing in frequency suggests that a neck disorder is worsening – if this is happening for you, I recommend that a skilled examination of your upper neck structures be performed as my experience suggests very strongly that your neck is the problem.



(6. De Benedittis G, Lorenzetti A. Minor stressful life events (daily hassles) in chronic primary headache: Relationship with MMPI personality patterns. Headache. 1992;32:330-334.

1. Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The International Classification of Headache Disorders: 2nd edn. Cephalalgia. 2004;24(Suppl. 1):9-160.

3. Henry P, Auray JP, Gaudin AF, et al. Prevalence and clinical characteristics of migraine in France. Neurology. 2002;59:232-237.

4. Lanteri-Minet M, Auray JP, El HA, et al. Prevalence and description of chronic daily headache in the general population in France. Pain. 2003;102:143-149.

2. Scher AI, Stewart WF, Liberman J, Lipton RB. Prevalence of frequent headache in a population sample. Headache. 1998;38:497-506.

5. Scher AI, Stewart WF, Buse D, Krantz DS, Lipton RB. Major life changes before and after the onset of chronic daily headache: A population-based study. Cephalalgia. 2008;28:868-87)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

About dean
Consultant Headache & Migraine Physiotherapist; International Teacher; Director, The Headache Clinic & Watson Headache Institute; PhD Candidate Murdoch University, Western Australia; Adjunct Lecturer, Masters Program, Physiotherapy School, University of South Australia; MAppSc(Res) GradDipAdvManipTher Experienced health practitioners trained in the Watson Headache Approach perform the examination and treatment techniques developed by Dean Watson. These techniques are based on his extensive experience of 7000 headache patients (21,000 hours) over 21 years and are now taught internationally. For your nearest practitioner who has completed training in the ‘Watson Headache Approach’ please refer to the ‘Practitioner Directory’.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!