The last two nights have been tough. I’m either unable to go to sleep or stay asleep. This is a little unusual for me. When I take my evening muscle relaxer I usually am knocked out for the night. Of course, any type of flare can throw that lovely plan out the window. My latest experience with tension headaches is making life harder.
Although I left behind the devasating migraine headaches following a complete hysterectomy, there are still annoying headaches to deal with. I have had headaches coming from a tight neck for many decades. They aren’t as sickening as migraines, but still cause a lot of pain and sleepless nights.
I get these headaches for a number of reasons, including: a neck that is mis-formed, tight trapezius muscles caused by Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia trigger points, and stress. Because my neck is straight instead of the proper gentle curve, it hurts. Because my neck muscles are working super hard to hold my head in place, they are constantly tense and grow painful. Fibromyalgia trigger points cause pain. And, stress…..we all know how it causes us to tense up and make our muscles hurt.
Although I take daily medications: muscle relaxers, Extra-Strength Tylenol, and nerve pain medicine, these flares of headaches come occasionally. I can’t really say for sure what caused this one, but it started gradually when I was away from home and under a lot of stress. Stress could have been the reason things got out of control. Because I’m only taking Advil when I can’t live without it, it’s harder to get the pain stopped.
The treatments that I’m using to aleviate some of the pain are: heating pads to the neck and shoulders, ice packs on top of my head, caffiene, relaxation exercises, yoga stretches, and very gentle neck-stretches. I also am able to use essential oil aromatherapy.
Here are some of the other treatments recommended that I would like to try:
- Biofeedback – A therapist would attach electrodes and I would then practice ways to relax the muscles before they tighten so much that you develop a tension headache.
- Anesthetic injections into trigger points.
- Guided imagery. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/4-ways-to-tame-tension-headaches)
I’ve certainly had enough of this headache, but I don’t want to insinuate that it’s the worst thing ever. Living with headaches has taught me that I can withstand a good deal of pain. No, I don’t have a high-pain threshold. I’m truly suffering, but my coping mechanism kicks in and I just live with it. Over the decades, I’ve learned to tune some pain out and go on with my day.
There are times when the pain takes over and my mental state is truly affected. I never know when things will spill over the top and I’ll crash. The best way to avoid that is to treat, treat, and pace. I have to treat the pain with whatever helps and not let it go for hours until it’s unbearable. It’s a lot like how we must pace our activity. We all have different levels of pain and deal with it differently.
We must be kind to one another and be understanding of our differences. Judging others with chronic pain is stupid because we can’t live in each other’s shoes. We can only live our own life. Take care of yourself and encourage one another. Stay safe.
@2021, copyright Lisa Ehrman
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. This post contains my opinions and experiences and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please consult your personal physician.