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Tension Headaches: Tension Headache Symptom,    Cause of Tension headache, Tension Headache Treatment

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, however, are not very well understood.  In earlier times, tension headaches were often referred to as muscle contraction headaches, depressive headaches, psychogenic headache, ordinary headache and essential headache.  These types of headaches also referred to today as stress headaches, usually cause a constant, dull type of pain to both sides of the head.  Pain may also be present in the muscles of the neck.  Many people suffer from tension headaches, and luckily, they are generally quite manageable.  Below are some facts about tension headaches that you should be aware of:

Tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire week.

Headaches that occur for more than 15 days are considered chronic tension headaches.

  • Pain can be mild to moderately intense.
  • Most tension headaches occur in the morning hours, soon after waking.
  • Insomnia may result from a tension headache.
  • Scalp and neck tenderness may occur with a tension headache.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Increased sensitivity to sound.

Those in the medical profession have been unable to agree on what exactly causes a tension headache.  There are many theories as to the causes such as:

  • Muscle contractions in the face
  • Muscles contractions in the neck
  • Muscle contractions in the scalp
  • Biochemical changes in the brain
  • Nitric oxide overproduction

Although there is not one concrete cause known for tension headaches, there are many aggravators that are known to cause tension headaches.  Some of these aggravators are as follows:

  • Overuse of headache medication
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress
  • Skipping meals
  • Lack of sleep
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Poor posture
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medications used to treat high blood pressure and depression
  • Teeth grinding
  • Head trauma
  • Whiplash
  • Eyestrain


While it is known that it is easier to prevent a tension headache rather than try to treat it, there are medications, both over-the-counter as well as prescription, which can be used temporarily to subdue the pain caused from a tension headache.  Some of these medications include:

  • Tylenol
  • Bayer
  • Bufferin
  • Ecotrin
  • Excedrin
  • Nalfon
  • Ansaid
  • Advil
  • Motrin
  • Nuprin
  • Actron
  • Orudis KT
  • Relafen
  • Aleve
  • Cataflam
  • Toradol
  • Soma
  • Meclomen
  • Norflex
  • Robaxin
  • Flexeril
  • Skelaxin

Since many of these medications carry with them the risk of side effects, be sure to check with your physician and/or pharmacist concerning how taking any of these medications may affect you.


Tension headaches are classified into two separate categories; those that are episodic and those that are chronic.  Episodic tension headaches are those that occur less than 15 days per month, are brief and last between 15 minutes and just a few hours.  Chronic tension headaches are marked in that they occur more than 15 times per month, and their duration is a bit longer than that of the episodic variety.  Women suffer twice as much from chronic tension headaches than do men.

While conventional medicines and treatments may work well in managing tension headaches for some people, others turn to alternative methods and natural remedies in their search for relief.  Some of these methods and remedies are as follows:

  • Tiger balm
  • Pain patches
  • Badger balm muscle rub
  • Narayana muscle oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Clove oil
  • Lemon balm
  • Dogwood
  • Scullcap
  • Opium lettuce
  • Jamaican dogwood
  • Practicing yoga
  • Meditation

If you believe that your tension headaches are the result of muscle tension in your neck and shoulders, seeing a massage therapist may be a good treatment to investigate.  A massage therapist will be able to relieve tension on the affected muscle groups, which can lead to relief of tension headaches.

No matter what the cause, or your choice of treatment and/or prevention, you can be sure that tension headaches are usually not debilitating, and can be easily managed and treated.  Making even a few lifestyle changes can prevent tension headaches from intruding into your daily life.  Reducing stress is also an important factor.

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VISITOR COMMENTS on "Help for Tension Migraine Headaches":

cornsilk said,
14th February 07
I suffer from frequent tension headaches. Two of the best remedies I have found are: 1)Seeing an acupuncturist which helps relax the muscles in my shoulder/neck/jaw on an ongoing basis. 2) Keeping hydrated! I learned this trick from the mother of another migrane sufferer - if I feel one coming on I might also drink something like Powerade with electrolytes. Keeping up with this seems to help prevent tension headaches.

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