Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Muscle Tension Headaches Overview

Another name for Muscle Tension Headaches is Tension Headache.

What is a tension headache?
A person with a tension headache has discomfort in the head, scalp or neck, caused by muscle tightness. Unlike a migraine headache, the pain is usually located on both sides of the head or neck, and it is constant, rather than pulsating. Tension headache triggers include anxiety, stress, depression, bruxism, and repetitive movements of the neck. Almost everyone experiences a tension headache at some time.

What are the symptoms of a tension headache?
Symptoms of a tension headache include a headache that may feel like a tight headband. The pain may be across the forehead or the back of the head, and tends to be located on both sides of the head. Additional symptoms include muscle tightness in the scalp, neck pain, jaw pain, and grinding of the teeth.

How does the doctor treat a tension headache?
Treatment for a tension headache may include cold compresses, relaxation techniques, therapeutic massage, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, and acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain.

Continue to Muscle Tension Headaches Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Muscle Tension Headaches 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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