Injections for Tension Headaches – Do They Work or Don’t They?
When you have tension headaches, one of the top things you think about is how to get them to stop.
You may have tried a lot of different types of solutions – aspirin, other painkillers, magnesium or an anti-inflammatory diet.
You might even have tried brainwave alteration devices, especially if you have tension headaches for 15 days each month. At this level of frequency, headaches are considered chronic by the medical profession.
Chronic Headaches: Treatments with Injectables: Do they work?
There’s actually good news here today – that there’s a possibility that you can get great results on the headaches with injections.
Yes, these injections are similar to the injections you opt to get when you want to erase the deep forehead crevasse between your brows. The difference is that different applications – such as beauty and headaches – have different dosages.
Tension Headaches? How Injections Can Help
Study Proves Injections for Headaches Can Work to Reduce Headache Pain
Here’s a synopsis of one of the studies about injections to treat headaches (n = 123 patients)
- When 123 patients were treated with either 25 U injection or 75 U, they experienced fewer attacks of migraine headaches – PLUS the headaches they did still have were less severe.
- Those who didn’t receive either injection still had the same number of headaches they usually did – plus the bad symptoms to go along with them.
There was another positive finding found in this study – Those that received the injections had fewer vomiting incidents from their migraines, plus they didn’t need as much headache medications.
Science Discovered How Injections Work for Tension Headaches
The way this headache treatment works involves a few different mechanisms:
- The injections reduce muscle contractions.
- The injections most likely block pain mediators such as glutamate and substance P.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s nice that the injections worked for those with migraines but my headaches aren’t migraines. They are chronic tension headaches. That means they are different.”
It’s so good to have a discriminating mind that can readily note both differences and similarities, as many people lack these skills. However, when you go back to the original mechanisms of how the injections work against headaches, you’ll see that they fulfill two functions that you would need accomplished when you have chronic tension type headaches. One is essentially physiological in nature and the other is more bio-neurological.
Reason One: In tension headaches, the muscles are contracting – and some of the pain comes from that muscle clutching that is occurring. So if the injections stopped this, and relaxed the muscles that either caused or contributed to the headache pain, it would be a good thing.
And the second reason why you have so much pain with a headache is due to the chemical intermediates that are being released. Pain and inflammation in the body are chemicals. And injections can target those processes and help block those chemical mediators.
Thus, by taking injections, you’re attacking the headaches in two really important ways simultaneously.
From a logical point of view, it makes perfect sense to schedule an injection for tension headaches.
What About Contrary Research Findings Indicating Injections Don’t Work for Tension Headaches?
In medicine in general, there are usually zero treatments that will work for every single person. Everyone is different and there’s no guarantee they will work for you but if you look into the research, it could still be well worth trying if you’ve tried other approaches and nothing else has worked (but first be sure your headaches are assessed properly to rule out any underlying medical conditions).
You should know that some studies don’t show much difference between the placebo group and the group that receives injections. However, what’s important to know is that there are very few things in medicine that research studies – or medical professionals – all readily agree upon.
Think about it. For two whole decades, much of the research on vitamin E reported that it made a difference in those with heart disease, and then one study comes along and says no, it doesn’t. Surprisingly, many people quickly changed their opinions on the vitamin even though the studies proving it did work were more numerous and already established. They didn’t even question the new research.
What To Consider When Thinking about Injections For Headaches
It appears that there is a prudent way to use research studies to your advantage, whether it’s for injections for headaches or other types of treatment.
Here’s what you might do:
- First find out what the studies do show and if you can find a big review (like a Cochran Review).
- If some show it does work for some people, there’s hope for you to find it works for you.
- Then analyze the studies that report it didn’t work. Often the scientists make conclusions based on the lack of significant results – even though some people benefited. Other times the scientists seem to ignore certain positive benefits that did occur. They may just be looking at the bottom line which shows an effect that isn’t quite as consistent as they need; .
- Then discuss it with your medical care provider or GP. Ask her what her experience has been.
- Ask your friends if any one has tried this treatment plan.
- Then take on board the information – and even listen to your intuition – as to whether or not you will choose to try injections for tension type headaches.
If your research and your intuition says pursue these injections for chronic headaches to give it your best shot, it might be worth a go.
Give us a call at our office on (03) 8849 1400 and schedule a consultation. We’ll explain the procedures, cost, and how long it takes to usually see results.
Silberstein S, Mathew N, Saper J, Jenkins S. Approved injectables solution type A as a migraine preventive treatment. For the Approved Muscle Relaxant Solution Migraine Clinical Research Group. Headache. 2000;40:445-450.