Tension type headache

What Does a Tension-Type Headache Feel Like?

Tension-type headaches, the official name for tension or stress headaches, are a non-throbbing, pressure pain in part or all the head, and may be associated with neck pain or tightness. A tension headache is often described as a "tight band" around the head, or feeling like the head is "in a vise". A stress headache or tension-type headache is usually not associated with nausea, or with avoidance of light or sound. It is not made worse by routine physical activity, and is of mild or moderate pain intensity.

Tension-type headache is the most commonly occurring headache type of headache worldwide. Tension-type headaches used to be called muscle contraction headaches, but not everyone who gets these headaches has tight muscles or has sore muscles in the scalp when they are touched or pressed.

Tension-type headache is usually what is called episodic, meaning that it comes and goes. In most cases, it occurs occasionally, although it can be more frequent. Rarely, tension-type headache occurs as a chronic headache, affecting you more days than not. Tension-type headache is the most commonly-occurring headache worldwide, affecting up to 70% of some populations.

Are tension headaches due to stress?

While stress can increase the frequency of this headache type, just like it can increase the frequency of migraines, it is not felt to be the cause of this type of headache. Stress management can help with management of tension-type headaches; it also helps with the management of migraine.

The majority of people with tension-type headaches have episodic headaches, which means that you have less than 15 days of headache a month.  This can often be managed with over-the-counter medication or non-medication strategies such as massage. (The International Headache Society makes a distinction between "infrequent" tension-type headaches at less than ten headaches a month, and "frequent" tension-type headaches, between 10 and 15 headache days a month.) Chronic tension-type headaches, defined as more than 15 headache days a month, is more likely to require medical attention.

Natural Remedies for Tension Headaches

The natural remedies used most frequently for tension-type headaches are massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, aromatherapy, and biofeedback.