LPNI Health Topic – July 2016


The Common Headache: Ways to Stop the Pain

Almost everyone gets an occasional headache with its throbbing, pounding, vise-like sensation.  The list of things that cause headaches is long.


Migraine, cluster and sinus headaches are entities in themselves and often require medical intervention.  They aren’t “just in your head”.   However, the most common headache is usually caused by tension, and is the focus of this topic.


Ways to treat a tension headache

•           Massage neck muscles, rubbing gently and firmly toward the heart.  Massage temples

            in a gentle circular motion, beginning at the center and moving outward.

•           Apply a heating pad to the shoulders and neck or take a warm shower, letting the

            water massage the area.

•           Lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth to the forehead.

•           Apply a cold pack against the forehead or neck.

•           Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain, preferably before the

             pain becomes excruciating when the cycle is hard to break.  Rate the pain on a scale

            of 1 to 10 with 10 being unbearable and 1 insignificant.  Intervene at level 2-3 so that it

            never reaches level 5.

•           Use relaxation techniques.  Slow deep breathing with eyes closed or

            progressive relaxation techniques may also help prevent headaches when under



Tips to prevent tension headaches

•           Find ways to reduce stress in your life.

                 -Slow down and take five deep breaths.

                 -Daily set aside time to meditate.

•           Make a conscious effort to relax the muscles of the jaw, neck and shoulders, even

            before there is a headache.  Massage temples and neck frequently.

•           Notice and correct neck and shoulder posture that results in strain.

•           Get daily exercise, preferably outside.

•           Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar consumed in coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

•           Avoid foods that seem to cause headaches.


Some common foods that may cause headaches in certain people

            Hard cheeses               Sour cream                Red wine

            Bananas                       Caffeine                    Citrus fruit

            Chocolate                     Onions                       Nuts

            Foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG)


B. Janice Faulkner, RN, BS, MSN, FCN

Parish Nurse

Ascension Lutheran Church

Minocqua, WI 54538 USA