04/17/07 Podcast - The Most Common Head Pain

  • The transcript of this podcast is below. Ifyou prefer to listen to it, you can do so easily from the MigraineCast Web site.


    Hello and welcome to MigraineCast the weekly podcast brought to you by MyMigraineConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network. This week, we're looking at the most common type of head pain, tension-type headaches, often simply called tension headaches.


    According the the World Health Organization and International Headache Society, up to 78% of the world's population experiences this type of headache, and 60% of TTH sufferers experience reductions in social activity and work capacity.

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    Tension-type headaches most commonly last from 30 minutes to several days. The pain is frequently described as "a band around the head" or vise-like. a tension-type headache has at least two fo these four characteristics:

    1. mild to moderate in intensity
    2. occurs on both sides of the head (bilateral)
    3. is not made worse by routine activity such as bending over or climbing stairs
    4. the pain has a pressing or tightening quality, not throbbing or pulsing

    At times, it can be difficult to distinguish between tension-type headache and a Migraine attack. Tension-type headache is not made worse by physical activity. It is not accompanied by vomiting, and if nausea is present, it is mild. A migraine attack may be accompanied by increased sensitivity to both light and sound; Tension-type headache is accompanied by one or neither. It is, however, possible for a Tension-type headache to trigger a migraine attack.


    As with Migraine, there are no diagnostic tests to confirm TTH. Diagnosis is accomplished by reviewing the patient's personal and family medical history, studying their symptoms, and conducting an examination. TTH is then diagnosed by ruling out other causes for the symptoms.


    Infrequent Tension-type headaches need only treatment for the individual episodes. If tension-type headaches are frequent, however, both episodic and preventive treatment is advisable. The preventives used for tension-type headaches are frequently the same as those used for Migraine prevention. Antidepressants and muscle relaxants are often the first tried. Complementary therapies such as massage therapy, biofeedback, and relaxation exercises can be very helpful for tension-type headaches.


    Tension-type headaches are usually more an annoyance than a big problem. Most of the time, they can be treated with an over-the-counter medication and a bit of rest. Still, headaches should always be diagnosed by our doctors to be on the safe side and be sure we're treating them appropriately. Preventive medications or complementary therapies for frequent tension-type headaches can work to restore health and quality of life.


    Coping with severe headaches and Migraine disease for over 40 years has brought me to the realization that learning about Migraine disease and headaches can allow us to work with our doctors as treatment partners to gain control over headaches and Migraines rather than them controlling us. Please join us at MyMigraineConnection.com for information and support or for a transcript of this podcast. From MyMigraineConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network, this is Teri Robert reminding you that you can live well with Migraine disease and headaches.

Published On: April 17, 2007