Tension Headaches: Causes, Treatment And More

A tension headache is characterised by a widespread, mild to moderate discomfort in the head that is often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. Tension headaches (tension-type headaches) are the most frequent kind of headache. Although even neck pain causes headache, its origins remain unknown.

The majority of headaches are tension headaches. These headaches tend to reoccur, particularly if you are under stress. They are not typically indicative of anything severe. However, they may be excruciatingly unpleasant and difficult to live with.

Tension headaches may last anywhere from 30 minutes to seven days. Chronic tension headaches occur when you experience a headache 15 or more days per month for three months. This kind of headache may cause tension and sadness, which might result in additional headaches.

Tension headaches are a fairly frequent ailment. Symptoms may appear as early as infancy, although they are more likely to appear in middle life. Tension headache may occur in children and teenagers, with a substantial proportion of youngsters experiencing tension headache by the age of 15. Females are more likely than men to be diagnosed with tension headaches (nearly twice as frequently).


types of tension headaches, treatment of headaches

Tension headaches are classified into two kinds by healthcare professionals. They determine the kind on how many headaches you experience and how often you encounter them:

Episodic tension headaches occur less often (fewer than 15 days a month). If you experience one or fewer headaches each month, your provider may refer to them as “infrequent.”

Chronic tension-type headaches occur when the number of headache days exceeds the number of headache-free days. Chronic tension headaches occur 15 or more days per month for three months or longer.

There are no diagnostic tests available to confirm a tension headache. A diagnosis is made by examining the patient’s personal and family medical history, studying their symptoms, and performing an examination. Because tension-type headache-like symptoms have been linked to secondary headaches (caused by an underlying cause or disease), physicians should evaluate the potential of a secondary headache problem when patients come with suspected tension-type headache. This is especially significant if the person gets new/different headaches or has progressing headaches that are becoming more frequent. Medication misuse and structural brain lesions are examples of secondary causes.

It may be difficult to tell the difference between a tension headache and a migraine episode at times. Physical exercise does not aggravate tension headaches. It does not cause vomiting, and if nausea occurs, it is moderate. A migraine episode may be accompanied by heightened sensitivity to light and sound; one or both of these symptoms may accompany the tension-type headache. A tension headache, on the other hand, may set off a migraine episode.


Muscle spasms in the head and neck area produce tension headaches.

These contractions may be induced by a number of factors.

  • foods
  • activities
  • stressors

Some individuals get tension headaches after looking at a computer screen for an extended length of time or driving for an extended period of time. Cold temperatures may also cause tension headaches.

Tension headaches may also be caused by:

  • alcohol
  • the strain on the eyes
  • eyes that are parched
  • fatigue
  • smoking
  • a cold or the flu
  • an infection in the nose
  • caffeine
  • bad posture
  • mental anguish
  • reduced water use
  • sleep deprivation
  • Meal skipping


Both pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies may help relieve tension headaches. Here are a few examples of popular tension headache treatment methods:

Medication for pain relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are widely available over-the-counter (OTC) and relieve tension headache discomfort. For certain individuals, combining two or more medicines, such as aspirin and/or acetaminophen with caffeine, into one pill may be more effective than single drug treatments. To treat severe tension headaches, prescription medications such as ketoprofen and higher dosage naproxen may be utilised.

Medication for prevention. To avoid recurrent episodic or chronic tension headache, tricyclic antidepressants, antiepileptic medications, and muscle relaxants may be utilised.

Alternate treatment. Relaxation, biofeedback, and stress management therapies may be beneficial in reducing stress and tension while also giving pain relief. According to several research, a combination of antidepressant medicines and stress management therapy improves results in the treatment of chronic tension headache. 

Changes in diet. Limiting or eliminating alcohol and caffeine may help some individuals decrease the incidence of tension headaches.

Prescription or over-the-counter medicines that are used on a regular basis must be monitored by a doctor, and doses must be followed properly to avoid adverse effects. Overuse of pain relievers may cause medication-overuse headaches in headache-prone individuals, as well as decrease the efficacy of preventative medications.


Neck pain left side, neck pain right side, headache, and so on. Headaches combined with neck discomfort may be depressing. However, not all of them are the same. Neck difficulties may sometimes cause a throbbing head, or the headache might be caused by something else or neck pain and headache may both occur concurrently.

Causes include stress, bad posture, caffeine withdrawal, and hangovers. If you have neck pain and headaches, you may need pain medicines and some stretching to feel better. In certain instances, though, it is worthwhile to consult with your doctor to determine the source of your discomfort. Certain types of headaches may cause discomfort radiating to the neck. Here are some examples of headaches that cause neck pain:

Tension Headache

Tension headache is a frequent kind of headache that causes moderate to severe non-throbbing discomfort in the forehead, scalp, and neck. Tension headaches develop when the muscles of the scalp and neck tighten as a result of tension, stress, fear, and/or emotions.

Migraine Headache

A migraine headache is a recurrent headache that produces throbbing and pulsing pain on one side of the brain. Nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound are possible side effects. Neck discomfort is a frequent symptom of migraines, and it may occur before or during the migraine episode.

Temporomandibular Joint Headache

TMJ headache is characterised by a dull pain that begins at the temples and extends around the TMJ and may mimic an earache. Neck discomfort may be caused by muscular exhaustion or TMJ weakness. The involuntary grinding and/or clenching of teeth, known as bruxism, causes fatigued and tight TMJ muscles, producing pain in the face and neck. Because bruxism may be involuntary and even occur while sleeping, most people are unaware of it.

Hemicrania Continua

Hemicrania continua is a primary headache of unknown aetiology characterised by a one-sided, moderately intense persistent headache. The disease also has significant exacerbations, during which pain extends to other regions such as the neck, shoulder, and area surrounding the ear.


MRI Scans

An MRI is a technique that produces crisp pictures of the brain without the use of X-rays. Instead, it generates these images using a huge magnet, radio waves, and a computer. The MRI scans may provide physicians with information about the anatomy of the brain and brain chemicals, which can assist them in determining the source of your headaches may it be the . MRI scans may also be performed if there is a change in your headaches or anything odd about them, if you are experiencing other symptoms with your headaches, or if there is suspicion that a structural issue is causing your migraines. MRI scans may also examine areas of the brain that CT scans cannot, such as the spine at the level of the neck and the rear section of the brain. MRI scans cannot diagnose migraines, cluster headaches, or tension headaches, but it may help physicians rule out other medical problems that may be causing your symptoms, such as: A tumour in the brain, an abscess is a kind of infection in the brain, hydrocephalus, spinal cord issues, such as a herniated disc, injuries.

Headaches As a Result of a Neck Problem

Neck muscular strain and trigger points are both frequent causes of tension headaches. Also referred to as the suboccipital muscles, the muscles at the base of the skull include a group known as the suboccipital muscles. Headache discomfort may be a problem for many individuals. Movements that occur between the skull and the first and second vertebrae in the neck are executed by these four pairs of muscles. A band may often be felt constricting the head due to pain in the suboccipital muscles. Compression of a nerve that leaves the base of the skull may also be caused by tense muscles in this area. This neck pain causes headache on top of the head and behind the eyes.

Can Neck Pain Cause Dizziness

In certain instances, neck pain causes headaches and dizziness. For some individuals, dizziness is the most apparent and worrisome symptom. For others, the neck discomfort may be more concerning, with dizziness only appearing on rare occasions, such as when the pain increases during a flare-up. However, there is presently no diagnostic test available to show that can neck pain cause dizziness. Cervicogenic dizziness is a diagnosis of exclusion, and the medical profession is presently divided on whether it occurs. Dizziness may also be caused by a variety of other causes, such as sickness or low blood pressure. Dizziness is also a frequent adverse effect of certain medicines.