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Tension Headache

Posted Jan 22 2012 7:42am
A tension headache is a condition involving pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, usually associated with muscle tightness in these areas.
Muscle contraction headache; Headache - benign; Headache - tension
Tension headaches are one of the most common forms of headaches. They may occur at any age, but are most common in adults and adolescents.
If a headache occurs two or more times a week for several months or longer, the condition is considered chronic.
Tension headaches can occur when the patient also has a migraine .
Tension headaches occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract. The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury , or anxiety .
Any activity that causes the head to be held in one position for a long time without moving can cause a headache. Such activities include typing or other computer work, fine work with the hands, and using a microscope. Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may also trigger a tension headache.
Other causes of tension headaches include
  • Caffeine (too much or withdrawal)
  • Colds and the flu
  • Eye strain
  • Excessive smoking
  • Overexertion
Tension headaches are not associated with structural changes in the brain.

Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., 06/19/2008

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