Ponytail Headaches are a type of headache. The scalp is extremely sensitive. When wearing hair up, it feels like someone is constantly tugging on the scalp. All one wants is a chic ponytail, but a pulled-back style frequently gives a headache. And, as amusing as the “problem” may be, it is truly terrible when the hair on your head hurts your head.
If you experience achy scalp symptoms after putting your hair up in a ponytail or updo, know that the sensation is not imaginary, and it has a name: a ponytail headache. There hasn’t been a lot of research done on ponytail headache. Saying your scalp aches because it is in a tight bun may not be taken seriously, which is unfortunate because it is common. You are not alone, and your symptoms are understandable.
What exactly is a Ponytail Headache?
According to a 2004 study published in the journal Headache, 50 of 93 women surveyed said a ponytail caused a headache. For some, the pain was located around their hair tie, while for others, it spread to their forehead, temples, or neck.
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Ponytail pain is medically known as external traction headaches, which fall under the category of “allodynia.” Allodynia is a condition in which the brain perceives a non-painful touch as painful. Wearing your hair back or brushing it should not cause pain, but this ache is quite common and not a major health concern.
When you toss your hair up, nerves in your scalp send an impulse to your brain, signaling a pulling sensation. When this impulse reaches the brain in someone with scalp allodynia, it is amplified more than it needs to be. Your pain nerve cells are “overexcitable,” which means they can be triggered by a harmless stimulus. It does not only happen when your hair is up, but it also affects people who wear a hat, helmet, or hijab/headscarf.
Who gets a Ponytail Headache?
While this type of headache is not a problem in and of itself. It is an indication that you have a sensitive scalp, which can indicate that you are predisposed to migraines. Ponytail headaches can occur in people who do not suffer from migraines, but they are less common.
Migraine sufferers have a more developed nervous system. When compared to those who do not suffer from migraines, these people have a greater ability to detect vibration, smell odors more acutely, and are more sensitive to light stimuli. Being more sensitive to the environment actually played an evolutionary role in keeping you safe.
To Prevent a Ponytail Headache
A little self-care can go a long way. Anything that irritates your nervous system increases your susceptibility to this excitable response. Make sleep a priority and keep stress-relieving techniques on hand. And be especially mindful of your self-care strategies during your period.
As scalp nerves pass through the trigeminal nerve on their way to the brain. Hormone receptors in the trigeminal nerve determine how sensitive nerves are, and they are affected by hormonal fluctuations.
If the phenomenon occurs frequently, taking a magnesium supplement may reduce the likelihood of both scalp achiness and reoccurring bouts of moderate headache. Most importantly, if you get one of these headaches, simply take your hair down. In the Headache study, this helped relieve the pain immediately for four people and within a half-hour for five others. So it’s worth a shot.