Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Headache Tension Anatomy

To better understand tension headache, it helps to understand the anatomy of the neck and head.

The muscles of the upper back and neck are responsible for most muscle tension headaches. Most of these muscles originate in the upper back and attach to the back of the head. Tension headaches may also be caused by muscles of the face or jaw.

Neck anatomy examples:

  • The muscles and bones of the neck
  • The trapezius is a common cause of tension headache
  • The splenius capitis is a common cause of tension headache

Face and jaw anatomy examples:
  • Bones of the face and skull
  • Muscles of the face
  • The orbit
  • The jaw

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Headache Tension References
  1. Anttila P. Tension-type headache in children and adolescents. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2004 Dec;8(6):500-4. [15509465]
  2. Bag B, Karabulut N. Pain-relieving factors in migraine and tension-type headache. Int J Clin Pract. 2005 Jul;59(7):760-3. [15963200]
  3. Fernandez-de-Las-Penas C, Alonso-Blanco JC, Cuadrado ML, Miangolarra JC, Barriga FJ, Pareja JA. Manual therapies in the management of tension-type headache. Headache. 2005 Feb;45(2):169-71. [15705127]
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