What is a tension-type headache?


What is a tension type headache?
What is a tension type headache?

What is a tension-type headache is a common question we get as neck health experts.

A tension-type headache is a common type of headache characterized by a dull, aching pain that typically affects both sides of the head.

It is often described as a feeling of tightness or pressure, as though a band is wrapped around the head. These headaches are typically not severe and do not come with additional symptoms like nausea or sensitivity to light and sound, which are common in migraines.

But, tension-type headache is the most prevalent headache disorder and is greater societal burden than migraine.

Types of tension type headaches

Most tension type headaches come and go and called episodic.  Episodic tension-type headache can last from 30 minutes to 7 days, and occurs on fewer than 180 days a year.

Tension type headache can begin with episodic events, but could get worse causing chronic symptoms.

Chronic tension-type headache is a disorder that evolves from episodic tension-type headache, with daily or very frequent episodes, lasting minutes to days.

Definition of chronic tension-type headache by the International Headache Society

  1. Headaches on 15 or more days a month (180 days/year) for at least 3 months
  2. Pain that is bilateral, pressing, or tightening in quality and non-pulsating, of mild or moderate intensity, which does not worsen with routine physical activity (such as walking or climbing stairs)
  3. Presence of no more than one additional clinical feature (mild nausea, photophobia, or phonophobia); and
  4. Without moderate/severe nausea or vomiting.

Treatment options for tension type headaches

Tension-type headaches are often related to factors such as stress, muscle tension, poor posture, and emotional well-being.  Even though the exact reason is not fully understood, stress and pericranial muscle spasms might play an important role in the pathophysiology of this disorder.

They can be managed with relaxation techniques, lifestyle adjustments, and over-the-counter pain relievers in many cases.

Specialized physical therapy treatment can assist in alleviating musculoskeletal elements contributing to tension type headaches. An emphasis on myofascial trigger points in key cervical musculature is of upmost focus.  We do not only have the treatment tools necessary to perform this correctly, but we also focus to improve the efficiency of the spine to reduce prevalence of trigger points with our Neck Alignment Program.

We provide a comprehensive treatment approach through our Headache Relief Program.  This includes manual therapy and exercises to improve neck posture and mobility. The primary goal of treatment is to address the underlying cervical spine issues and alleviate myofascial trigger points causing tension type headaches.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today so we can help you!