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
- 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).
- (1) Headache classification subcommittee of the international headache society. The international classification of headache disorders.2nd edition. Cephalagia 2004; 1:24
- (2) Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) 2008. Diagnosis and management of headache in adults
- (3) British Association for the Study of Headache 2007. Guidelines for All Healthcare Professionals in the Diagnosis and Management of Migraine Tension-Type, Cluster and Medication-Overuse Headache
Last reviewed 08/2019