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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Tension Headache


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Tension Headache
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Tension Headache is the commonest form of headache. The pain is usually constant and may be generalised.  Among the commonly employed modalities are biofeedback, relaxation training, self-hypnosis, and cognitive therapy. Fortunately, effective treatments for tension headaches are available. Managing a tension headache is often a balance between fostering healthy habits, finding effective nondrug treatments and using medications appropriately. In addition, a number of preventive, self-care and alternative treatments may help you deal with headache pain. Many people liken the feeling to having a tight band around their head. A tension headache may also cause pain in the back of your neck at the base of your skull. When people say they have a stress headache, they usually mean they have a tension headache. Secondary headaches are often the result of some underlying disease, of which head pain is a symptom.

Although headache pain sometimes can be severe, in most cases it's not the result of an underlying disease. The pain can radiate from the neck, back, eyes, or other muscle groups in the body. Migraine-type features (unilateral, throbbing pain, nausea, photophobia) are not present. Some people with Tension Headache also have a tight feeling in their head or neck muscles. Usually, pain from a tension headache is mild to moderate and doesn't keep you from performing your daily tasks. Neuroimaging is not needed in patients who have no worrisome findings on examination. These headaches are common and tend to come back, especially when you are under stress. In the past, pain etiology was presumed to be the muscular contraction of pain-sensitive structures of the cranium, but the IHS intentionally abandoned the terms muscular contraction headache and tension headache because no research supports muscular contraction as the sole pain etiology. Some experts believe that tension headaches and migraines represent two ends of a common spectrum, and that migraines, which are severe but irregular in occurrence, sometimes progress or transform to the less severe, but more frequent, tension-variety headache.

Most people describe a tension headache as a constant dull, achy feeling on both sides of the head. The vast majority of headaches are so-called primary headaches. Tension-type headaches account for nearly 90% of all headaches. A tension headache causes a constant ache and tightness around your forehead, temples, or the back of your head and neck. They are the most common type of primary headache, and while they share some characteristics with the more serious migraine, they also display certain distinct differences that set them apart. mitriptyline is the most widely researched prophylactic agent for frequent headaches. No large trials with rigorous methodologies have been conducted for most non-medication therapies.

Causes of Tension Headache

The common Causes of Tension Headache :

  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Poor posture
  • In some people, tension headaches are caused by tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp.
  • Depression
  • Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache.
  • Causes range from simple tension headaches related to stress to - much less commonly - serious brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.
  • Other causes include eye strain, fatigue , alcohol use , excessive smoking, excessive caffeine use, sinus infection , nasal congestion , overexertion, colds, and influenza .
  • People with chronic tension-type headache may also have imbalances in neurochemicals. In fact, depression may be an underlying cause in some people with chronic tension headaches.

Symptoms of Tension Headache

Some common Symptoms of Tension Headache :

  • Headache upon awakening.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • General muscle aches.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Feels like a tight band or vise on the head.
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Tenderness in the scalp, neck and shoulder muscles .
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

Treatment of Tension Headache

Here is the list of the methods for treating Tension Headache :

  • Frequent use of medications to treat symptoms of headache may actually cause episodic tension-type headache to become chronic in nature.
  • Ascertain that the patient is not overusing medication, shows no evidence of drug dependency, and is not depressed.
  • Avoid known triggers, such as certain foods and beverages, lack of sleep, and fasting
  • If headache cause includes dental pathology, sinus disease, trigger points, or CNS pathology, initiate care to treat the specific cause.
  • Urgent neurosurgical referral and treatment for epidural or subdural haematomas, subarachnoid haemorrhage and brain tumours.
  • Certain people may require prescription-strength pain relievers for particularly severe episodes
  • Therapies such as stress management or biofeedback may be used in an effort to reduce or prevent tension headaches.
  • Medications, as recommended by your child's physician
  • Several medications or combinations of medications may have to be tried to find the best treatment.