A tension headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, usually associated with muscle tightness in these areas.
Cluster headache Headache Migraine headache Mixed tension migraine
Muscle contraction headache; Headache - benign; Headache - tension; Chronic headaches - tension; Rebound headaches - tension
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Tension headaches are one of the most common forms of
If a headache occurs two or more times a week for several months or longer, the condition is considered
Tension headaches can occur when the patient also has a migraine.
Tension headaches occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract. The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury, or anxiety.
Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache. Such activities include typing or other computer work, fine work with the hands, and using a microscope. Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may also trigger a tension headache.
Other triggers of tension headaches include:
- Caffeine (too much or withdrawal)
- Colds and the flu
- Dental problems such as jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- Eye strain
- Excessive smoking
Fatigue Nasal congestion
Tension headaches are not associated with structural changes in the brain.
Review Date: 11/22/2010
Reviewed By: 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.