muscle contraction headache

Last reviewed 12/2022

This is the most common type of primary headache disorder (1).

Tension headache describes a pain which has at least two of the following characteristics:

  • mild to moderate in severity
  • bilateral
  • often felt as a pressure or constriction
  • not accompanied by significant systemic upset or neurological deficits
  • not aggravated by routine physical activity such as walking or climbing stairs (2)

Episodes of headaches usually last from 30 minutes to 7 days. Nausea or vomiting does not occur but their might be either photophobia or phonophobia associated with the disease (2).

Cause of the headache cannot be attributed to another disease e.g. - post trauma, brain tumors etc

The spectrum of severity includes:

  • patients with mild and infrequent attacks who do not consider that they have a disease
  • patients with daily, almost continuous, pain

Tension type headaches may be seen together with migraine in some patients with frequent headaches (3).