Tension Headaches: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What is Tension Headaches?

Tension headache, also known as tension-type headache, is the most common type of primary headache. The pain can radiate from the lower back of the head, the neck, eyes, or other muscle groups in the body typically affecting both sides of the head. Tension-type headaches account for nearly 90% of all headaches.

Tricyclic antidepressants appear to be useful for prevention.Evidence is poor for SSRIs, propranolol and muscle relaxants. For the treatment of a tension headache, ibuprofen is effective

Causes of Tension Headaches

Causes of Tension Headaches

Various precipitating factors may cause tension-type headaches in susceptible individuals:

Stress: usually occurs in the afternoon after long stressful work hours or after an exam
Sleep deprivation
Uncomfortable stressful position and/or bad posture
Irregular meal time (hunger)
Tension-type headaches may be caused by muscle tension around the head and neck. One of the theories says that the main cause for tension-type headaches and migraine is teeth clenching which causes a chronic contraction of the temporalis muscle.

If other treatment is not working, a health care provider may use an MRI to confirm a more complicated diagnosis.

The cause of tension headaches is not known. Experts used to think tension headaches stemmed from muscle contractions in the face, neck and scalp, perhaps as a result of heightened emotions, tension or stress. But research suggests muscle contraction isn’t the cause.

The most common theory supports a heightened sensitivity to pain in people who have tension headaches. Increased muscle tenderness, a common symptom of tension headaches, may result from a sensitized pain system.

Stress is the most commonly reported trigger for tension headaches.

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Symptoms of Tension Headaches
Signs and symptoms of a tension headache include:

Dull, aching head pain
Sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head
Tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
They are divided into two main categories — episodic and chronic.

Episodic tension headaches
Episodic tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to a week. Frequent episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month for at least three months. Frequent episodic tension headaches may become chronic.

Chronic tension headaches
This type of tension headache lasts hours and may be continuous. If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for at least three months, they’re considered chronic.

Tension vs. migraines
Tension can be difficult to distinguish from migraines. Plus, if you have frequent episodic tension headaches, you can also have migraines.

Unlike some forms of migraine, tension headaches usually aren’t associated with visual disturbances, nausea or vomiting. Although physical activity typically aggravates migraine pain, it doesn’t make tension headache pain worse. An increased sensitivity to either light or sound can occur with a tension , but these aren’t common symptoms.

A tension headache is a frequent occurence in the lives of most individuals, and is almost always a non-life threatening situation. Even so, these tension headaches can be very painful under some circumstances. A tension headache is classified as a “primary” headache in the medical community, making it by far the most common kind of headache. Tension headache symptoms include a feeling of tightness around the temples and over the eyes. This tightness can usually be described as a “band” around the head. This feeling of tightness typically forms into a painful sensation in a gradual fashion.

This pain can range widely in intensity, although it is usually described as fairly mild. Tension headache symptoms can be triggered by any number of situations, and the exact causes remain a mystery. It is widely held that stressful physical and emotional situations can lead to a tension headache. Tension headache symptoms tend to present when the patient is faced with a tough emotional or physical situation, and can develop quickly. The headache usually starts out as a feeling of general tightness in the skull, developing into a painful experience.

Treatment for tension headache symptoms is fairly simple, and can normally be accomplished with affordable over the counter medications. Any number of pain relievers should work quickly to overcome tension headache symptoms. Pain relievers such as Aleve and Ibuprofin are usually powerful enough to overcome tension headache symptoms. Primary headaches usually happen on a random basis. Regular headaches are sometimes a sign of another issue at play, and should be checked out with a doctor. Tension headache symptoms normally emerge when the patient undergoes physical or emotional stress. Headaches occuring frequently and without provocation are cause for a visit to a specialist. This is especially true if the symptoms are chronic, or present with additional symptoms, such as sensory issues.

More serious tension headache symptoms may present with severe pain. If the pain should become intolerable and results in a runny eye or nose, this may be a sign of a cluster headache. Cluster headaches present as an extremely painful sensation behind the eye. This sensation can be intense enough to drive patients into a pain crisis. Immediate medical care should be sought in these situations, as the pain can become excruciating.

Tension Headache Treatment

Tension Headache Treatment

When you have it, you may feel like there is a tight band around your head, squeezing tighter and tighter around your temples. You may also experience pain in your scalp or neck. Though tension headaches are the most common type of headache, their causes aren’t well understood. Experts believe they may be triggered by responses to stress, depression, anxiety, or injury. with the right treatment, you should be able to find relief.

Using Medication and Professional Treatment
Using Home Remedies
Adjusting Your Lifestyle
Preventing Tension Headaches

To Know More About Tension Headaches: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments Visit : Tension Headaches


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