What is tension headache?

The following nontraditional therapies may help if you have tension headache pain: Acupuncture. Acupuncture may provide temporary relief from chronic headache pain. Acupuncture practitioners treat you using extremely thin, disposable needles that generally cause little pain or discomfort. The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture Web site provides referrals to medical doctors who use acupuncture in their practices. Massage. Massage can help reduce stress and relieve tension. It's especially effective for relieving tight, tender muscles in the back of your head, neck and shoulders. For some people, it may also provide relief from headache pain. The American Massage Therapy Association can...

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Also known as Tension Headaches, cluster headache, Stress Headaches, Tension Type Headache, Tension-Type Headache, headache - tension, headache, tension, Tension-Type Headaches, Stress Headache, vascular headache, muscle contraction headache, benign headache, Idiopathic Headache, headache - benign, Psychogenic Headache, Idiopathic Headaches, Psychogenic Headaches, chronic headaches - tension, Tension Vascular Headache, rebound headaches - tension, Tension-Vascular Headache, Tension-Vascular Headaches
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Tension Headache

More than 10 million people a year visit a doctor or an emergency department because of headache. With a complete history and physical examination, a doctor can correctly diagnose and treat a great majority of headaches. Tension headache is the most common type of headache.

Cluster Headache

Oh my aching head! Nearly everyone has had a headache. The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don't get enough sleep, miss meals or use alcohol. Other common types of headaches include migraines, cluster headaches and sinus headaches. Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax and taking pain relievers.

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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.

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Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are a chronic (long-term) condition that causes very bad, sometimes unbearable head pain. The headaches happen in "clusters" or groups. The headaches may happen one or more times a day over a period of weeks or months. Each headache can last from 30 minutes to several hours. At the end of the cluster cycle, the headaches suddenly stop. They usually do not come back for six months to a year, or even longer. The periods of time where you do not have cluster headaches are called remissions (ree-MISH-uns). Rarely, cluster headaches can happen for a year or more without a remission.

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If any of the following accompany the headache, see the doctor: blurred vision, sensitivity to light, pressure behind the eyes relieved by vomiting, food allergies, pressure in the facial sinuses, throbbing of head and temples, heart pounding, visual color changes, and feeling as though your head will explode.

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Tension headache - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tension headache (renamed a tension-type headache by the International Headache Society in 1988) is the most common type of primary headache. ...

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What is a Tension Headache?

Jul 22, 2009 ... What is a tension headache? A tension headache causes a constant ache and tightness around your forehead, temples, or the back of your head ...

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Tension headache (stress headache), causes, symptoms, diagnosis ...

Mar 11, 2011 ... Learn about tension headache symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, sensitivity to light or noise, and more. Causes and treatments are ...

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Headache, Tension: eMedicine Emergency Medicine

Sep 29, 2009 ... Overview: The International Headache Society (IHS) began developing a classification system for headaches in 1985.

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Tension Headaches -- familydoctor.org

Learn about the diagnosis and treatment of tension headaches.

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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. But research suggests that there doesn't appear to be a significant increase in muscle tension in people diagnosed with tension headache.

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Because tension headaches are so common, their effect on job productivity and overall quality of life is considerable. When your head is "gripped in a vise," as the pain is often described, you may feel unable to attend family and social activities. You might need to stay home from work, or if you do go to your job, you work at only a fraction of your normal efficiency.

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Coping and support
Living with chronic pain can be extremely difficult. In addition to the physical symptoms, chronic pain can make you anxious or depressed. Ultimately, it may affect your relationships with friends and family, your productivity at work, and the overall quality of your life.

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Exams and Tests
A headache that is mild to moderate, not accompanied by other symptoms, and responds to home treatment within a few hours may not need further examination or testing. If a neurologic (nervous system) examination is performed, a tension headache causes no abnormal findings. However, tenderness in the muscles near the skull is often present.

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Lifestyle and home remedies
Rest, ice packs or a long, hot shower may be all you need to relieve a tension headache. A variety of nonmedication strategies can help reduce the severity and frequency of chronic tension headaches. This approach can be a vital part of any treatment plan for headache. Try some of the following suggestions to see which work best for you.

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Medical advice
See your health care provider if headaches are severe, persistent, recurrent, or are accompanied by other symptoms (drowsiness, vision changes, changes in movement or sensation, seizures, changes in alertness, nausea and vomiting).

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Outlook (Prognosis)
Tension headaches usually respond well to treatment without residual effects. They are annoying, but not dangerous.

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Possible Complications
Rebound headaches -- headaches that keep coming back -- may occur from overuse of painkillers.

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Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor. However, you may be referred immediately to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in treating nervous system disorders, such as headache.

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In addition to regular exercise, techniques such as biofeedback training and relaxation therapy can help reduce stress.

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Risk factors
Risk factors for tension headache include: Being a woman. One study found that almost 90 percent of women and about 70 percent of men experience tension headaches during their lifetimes. Being middle-aged. The incidence of tension headaches appears to peak in the 40s, though people of all ages can get this type of headache.

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Tests and diagnosis
If you have chronic or recurrent headaches, your doctor may try to pinpoint the type and cause of your headaches using these approaches: Your description of your pain. Your doctor can learn a lot about your headaches from your description of the type of pain, including its severity, location, frequency and duration, and other signs and symptoms you may have. Imaging tests. If you have unusual or complicated headaches, your doctor may order tests to rule out serious causes of head pain, such as a tumor or an aneurysm. Two common tests used to image your brain are computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. A CT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses...

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Treatments and drugs
Some people with tension headaches don't seek medical attention, and try to treat the pain on their own. The problem with that is that repeated use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can actually cause overuse headaches.

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