Tension Type Headache

Also known as: TTH, tension headache, stress headache, psychogenic headache, muscle contraction headache

What is tension type headache?

Tension type headache is the most common type of primary headache disorder. In general, tension type headache tends to be milder than other headache types, and when infrequent do not cause significant disability. However if frequent, tension type headache can be a cause of concern and disability.

What causes tension type headache?

The exact cause of tension type headaches isn’t entirely clear. The name is likely a misnomer, and is based on early theories attributing this type of headache to tension and stress. While stress can be a trigger for many headache disorders, it is likely not the only underlying cause. Patients with tension type headache may have an increased sensitivity to pain.

What are the symptoms of tension type headache? 

Common symptoms of tension headaches include tightness or tenderness or pressure on the head, as well as dull, aching pain. Symptoms are typically less severe than migraine headaches, though they can vary in severity.

What are tension type headache care options? 

In general, tension type headache can be treated with a combination of preventive methods which may or may not include medications and biobehavioral treatments such as lifestyle modification, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, meditation and yoga.

Tension type headache can typically be treated acutely with over the counter medications.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Esther Hagler, MD

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2020 09:37 AM

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