Tension Headache

Tension Headache

A tension headache – or tension-type headache, as it’s medically known – is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren’t well understood. A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain that many people describe as feeling as if there’s a tight band around their head.


Signs and symptoms of a tension headache include:

  • Dull, aching head pain
  • The sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head
  • Tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
  • Occasionally, loss of appetite

A tension headache can last from 30 minutes to an entire week.


The exact cause or causes of tension headache are unknown. Experts used to think that the pain of tension headache stemmed from muscle contraction in the face, neck and scalp, perhaps as a result of heightened emotions, tension or stress.


It’s likely other factors also contribute to the development of tension headaches. Potential triggers may include:

  • Stress
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Working in awkward positions or holding one position for a long time
  • Jaw clenching


Rest, ice packs or a long, hot shower may be all you need to relieve a tension headache some of the following suggestions to see which work best for you.

Stress Management

Stress is a commonly reported trigger for tension headache. One way to help reduce stress is by planning ahead and organizing your day. Another way is to allow more time to relax.

Muscle Relaxation

Applying heat or ice to sore muscles may ease a tension headache. Massage may help to relieve muscle tension, and it may also provide relief from headache pain for some people. Gently massage the muscles of your head, neck and shoulders with your fingertips.

Perfecting Your Posture

Good posture can help keep your muscles from tensing up. It places minimal strain on your body.

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