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Tension Headache Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions & More All you need to know

December 30, 2021

In general, a tension headache is defined as a mild to severe head discomfort that feels like a tight band around your head. The most frequent form of headache is a tension headache, although its origins aren't fully understood.

Everybody has a headache now and then in this busy life. Headaches are caused by more than 150 illnesses and can be in the muscles of the scalp or neck.

There are treatments for tension headaches. When it comes to managing a tension headache, it's important to strike a balance between good behaviors, non-drug therapies, and pharmaceutical use.

This article will help you to find if you are suffering from a tension headache. You will be informed about the symptoms, risk factors, home remedies, medical treatment, and causes.

Tension Headache Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions

What does the term Tension Headache mean?

When a tension headache occurs on both sides, it is often described as a "squeezing" or "band" headache. Vomiting does not cause discomfort. The severity of tension headaches is usually mild to severe.

Light exercise, such as walking up and down the stairs, does not exacerbate the condition. It's not uncommon to become dizzy from time to time. The scalp may have sensitive regions. If the pain is persistent, it may come and go in short bursts.

A substantial percentage of children and teenagers have suffered tension headaches by the age of 15. Tension headaches are more common in women than in men (roughly twice as often).

What are the symptoms of Tension Headache?

Most tension headaches occur infrequently and are typically brief. In rare situations, the headache may continue for many days. Chronic tension headaches occur more than 15 days per month.

Some common symptoms that you can have during tension headache are listed below:

  • Tightness or pressure across your brow, or on the sides and rear of your skull
  • Pain in the back of the head that is painful
  • Stress headaches may make people feel like their head is in a vice.
  • It's common to characterize the discomfort or pain as continuous and pressure-like.
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensory hypersensitivity, paralysis, or restlessness are among the symptoms that might accompany a headache.
  • Some patients describe their discomfort as a cap or band-like sensation around their head, while others describe it as muscular tightness in their neck or shoulder areas.

What are the types of Tension Headaches?

Chronic headache

Unlike episodic tension headache, a chronic tension headache might linger for hours. Chronic headaches are those that occur 15 or more days per month for at least three months.

Episodic headache

Tension headaches according to the patients are generally for 30 mins and can last for 7 days. For at least three months, the frequency of episodic tension headaches is fewer than 15 days per month.

Chronic tension headaches can develop because of frequent episodic tension headaches.

What are the Causes of Tension Headaches?

Several factors might lead to tension headaches. Some are listed below:

  • People who have tension headache is caused by the lack of sleep and avoiding of the meal.
  • Anxiety and stress are major reasons for tension headaches.
  • Children who face isolation, examination at school, and newborn sibling can suffer through the tension headache.
  • The wrong posture of the body can be also the reason.
  • Tension headaches are associated with increased muscular soreness, which might be caused by a hypersensitive pain system.
  • Anxiety headaches can also be aggravated by exhaustion and mental stress, as well as issues with the neck or jaw muscles and joints.

What are the risk factors of Tension Headaches?

The following are risk factors for tension headaches, which are typically caused by stiffness in the muscles of the head and neck:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Poor posture of the body such as sitting, bending
  • Smoking
  • Anxiety and depression
  • The menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, among other events or conditions, can cause changes in female hormone levels
  • Drinking alcohol in the large amount
  • Small periods of sleep

What are the complications of Tension Headaches?

Especially if tension headaches are chronic, tension headaches have a significant impact on job productivity and quality of life.

You may not be able to participate in some activities because of the discomfort that you experience regularly. There is a chance you will have to miss work or your capacity to operate at work will be compromised.

When to see a doctor:

The headache might be a sign of a serious disease. The good news is that this is an uncommon occurrence. When the pain is unbearable, it's important to make sure it's not a sign of something more serious.

Call the doctor

Consult your doctor if tension headaches are interfering with your life or if you need to take headache medication more than twice a week.

You should visit your doctor even if you have a history of headaches if the pattern changes or if your headaches start to feel different for no apparent reason. An occasional brain tumor or weakened blood artery rupture may be the cause of a headache.

For a new headache, it's best to consult your doctor if you are taking anticoagulants or chemotherapy, or if the headache is preceded by a head injury.

It is important to seek medical treatment if you suffer from chronic headaches that develop and increase over time.

Take emergency help

Take immediate action if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Headache that comes on suddenly.
  • Feverish headaches, stiff neck, mental disorientation and convulsions, double vision as well as weakness, numbness, and difficulty speaking are all symptoms of the disease.
  • Intense pain following a brain injury that worsens over time


A stress headache is diagnosed by asking the patient about their headache symptoms and performing a physical examination. To confirm a stress headache, a particular test does not exist.

In individuals with tension headaches, a CT scan or an MRI scan is typically not necessary because the physical examination is usually normal. There may be some basic blood testing done to check that there is nothing wrong.

Normal symptoms and medical examination are used most commonly to diagnose headaches. Imaging or laboratory testing can be used to diagnose the source of the headache if necessary.

Headaches must be diagnosed correctly since the therapy for each illness is different. Sometimes, therapy must be sought immediately. The fact that a person might suffer from a variety of various forms of headaches should be kept in mind. A headache journal might help you identify the type of pain you're experiencing if you suffer from it frequently.

What are the treatments for tension headache?

Medical treatment:

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Motrin (ibuprofen) or combinations of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine are used by many individuals to alleviate tension headaches (Excedrin).

While these drugs can be helpful and safe for most individuals when used as recommended, misuse can lead to headaches that are more frequent and severe than they should be for most people. Using these agents more than twice a week might lead to this.

If a woman experiences tension headaches during pregnancy, she should consult with her doctor to find out which medicines are safe to use.

Points to be noted are:

  • To reduce the danger of Reye's syndrome, aspirin-containing products should never be administered to youngsters.
  • Patients need to discuss any OTC medications they are taking with their doctors since chronic or excessive use of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage, and many medications are coupled with acetaminophen.

Prescription medicines may be utilized if a diagnosis of chronic tension headache has been made or suspected to minimize the frequency and intensity of the headaches.

Antidepressants and antiseizure medicines are among the medications utilized. You should consult with a physician to determine which medication is appropriate for your needs.

Surgical Treatment:

The GON, TON, and/or LON are freed from the strain of the surrounding muscle tissue in a technique known as nerve decompression surgery, or migraine surgery for short.

For persistent pain and other symptoms of tension headache, this outpatient surgery offers a long-term success rate of 90 percent or higher. There is a link to the surgical process here.

In this type of headache surgery, tiny, well-hidden incisions are utilized to reach the areas of concern, and the nerves are targeted and freed from the surrounding pressure.

To minimize additional compression, the nerves are frequently cushioned with a piece of nearby fat, and the nerve's new relaxed posture is free of discomfort from the surrounding muscles.

Because the compression is relieved, the neuralgia goes away and the nerve returns to normal, no longer transmitting distress messages to the brain.

The pain is not triggered without the distress signals, and the feedback cycle of tense muscles that the discomfort was producing is no longer there. The complete pain cycle has been broken, and the tension headache has been eased.

What are the home remedies for Tension Headaches?

Try Yoga:

Those who suffer from tension headaches may benefit from yoga. Relaxing the muscles in your head, back, and neck as well as increasing circulation to your brain and upper body, as well as better posture, all assist to relieve tension headaches.

Exercise is the remedy itself:

Chemicals released by exercise in the body inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Walking, swimming or cycling are all acceptable forms of physical activity, as long as your doctor has given you the okay. Start cautiously, as exercising too intensely might cause headaches in some people.

Stop smoking:

Nicotine in cigarettes decreases blood supply to the brain and causes a nerve response at the back of your throat, which can contribute to headaches and dizziness.

Loosen up your strained muscles:

Tense muscles can trigger pressure-type cerebral pains. Apply warmth or ice to calm tense neck and shoulder muscles. Utilize a warming cushion set on low, a high temp water bottle, a hot shower or shower, a warm pack, or a hot towel. Or then again apply an ice pack (enclosed by a material) or a cool washcloth across the temple.

Get knead:

 Back rub additionally can assuage muscle strain — and some of the time migraine torment. Delicately knead your sanctuaries, scalp, neck, and shoulders with your fingertips, or tenderly stretch the neck.

What are the preventions of Tension Headaches?

If you've ever experienced a stress headache, you know how much it can ruin your day. This type of headache generally appears in the afternoon, bringing mild to severe discomfort that may feel like a band of pressure or a dull tightness.

Tension headaches develop when the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and scalp become tight. Some people have stress headaches on occasion, while others get them frequently. While a stress headache is rarely incapacitating, it may certainly ruin your day.

 If you suffer from tension headaches regularly, here are some methods on how to get rid of a headache.

Basic steps:

  • Have a good night's rest
  • Eat regularly
  • To avoid tension and exhaustion, pace yourself.


This relaxation method needs further training, but it can aid in the prevention of repeated tension headaches. Electrodes are usually attached to your skin by a therapist to detect electrical impulses from your neck and shoulder muscles.

You'll next learn to detect when you're becoming tense and how to relax your muscles before they constrict to the point where you get a tension headache.

Medical Practices:

Trigger points, which are highly sensitive regions in the back of the neck or the shoulders, are present in certain persons who suffer from tension headaches.

Injecting a topical anesthetic into these sites may relieve pain and prevent recurrence of the headache. There are also a variety of medicines that may be used to alleviate tension headaches.

Consult your doctor if non-drug therapy isn’t providing you with the relief you're looking for.

Relaxing methods:

As long as you practice these strategies regularly, physical and psychological relaxation treatments can help relieve tension headaches. Using a heating pad on your neck and shoulders to relax the muscles is one method.

Exercising these muscles strengthens and stretches them, which is beneficial. Guided visualization techniques that help you concentrate your attention on different regions of your body to relax them and release tension and stress can also be beneficial.

If you will take these precautions that tension headache will stay away from you.

Abdur Rashid
Medically Reviewed By Abdur Rashid
MSC Public Health, MCSP, MHCPC
BSC (Hon) Physiotherapy
Consultant Neuro-spinal & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist


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