Tension headache

Alternative Names

Muscle contraction headache; Headache – benign; Headache – tension; Chronic headaches – tension; Rebound headaches – tension

Definition of Tension headache

A tension headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, usually associated with muscle tightness in these areas.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Tension headaches are one of the most common forms of . They may occur at any age, but are most common in adults and adolescents.

Symptoms

The headache pain may be described as:

Signs and tests

A headache that is mild to moderate, not accompanied by other symptoms, and responds to home treatment within a few hours may not need further examination or testing, especially if it has occurred in the past. A tension headache reveals no abnormal findings on a neurological exam. However, tender points (trigger points) in the muscles are often seen in the neck and shoulder areas.

Treatment

Understanding your headache triggers can help you avoid situations that cause your headaches. A headache diary can help you identify your headache triggers. When you get a headache, write down the day and time the pain began. The diary should include notes about what you ate and drank in the last 24 hours, how much you slept and when, and what was going on in your life immediately before the pain started. For example, were you under any unusual stress? Also include information about how long the headache lasted, and what made it stop.

Expectations (prognosis)

Tension headaches usually respond well to treatment without residual effects.

Review

Kevin Sheth, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/22/2010

Brain
Headache
Headache
Tension-type headache

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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