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Headache (tension): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About headache (tension)

Headache is defined as pain in the head, scalp and the neck. It can be of various kinds which may have different causes and treatments. Tension headache is one of the types of headache characterized by a dull pain in the head due to spasm of the neck and shoulder muscles. Tension headache may range from occasional to longstanding.

Headache (tension): Incidence, age and sex

Tension headache is a very common human ailment and encountered frequently in the general population. It may afflict an individual of any age and gender. However, it is more common in teenagers and adult population. No gender predilection has been documented.

Signs and symptoms of headache (tension): Diagnosis

Tension headache is one of the most common kinds of headache seen in individuals. It is characterized by a dull and steady pain all over the head. The pain is felt as a bandlike grip around the head and especially in forehead, temples and back of the neck. The duration of the pain is variable, ranging from a few minutes to several hours. Usually, tension headaches are occasional in occurrence. However, some individuals may experience chronic tension headache which may be a sign of clinical depression.

Tension headache, if mild and occasional need not be evaluated. But headache, which is persistent or not relieved by medications, need complete evaluation to rule out other ailments with similar presentation.

Causes and prevention of headache (tension)

Tension headache arises due to spasm of muscles of shoulders and back of the neck. This may occur as a result of several factors of which mental and emotional stress, fatigue and lack of sleep are most common. It may also occur by certain activities, which involve keeping the head in the same position for a long time. This leads to stiffness and tightness of the neck and shoulder muscles. Such activities include driving and working on the computer for long periods. Other factors like excess consumption of alcohol and coffee may also contribute to it.

Headache (tension): Complications

Repeated episodes of tension headache may be quite distressing to the individual and may affect his/her work and personal life. Moreover, misuse of painkillers due to headache may result in rebound headaches.

Headache (tension): Treatment

The treatment of tension headache includes both medical and non-medical modalities. The medical modality includes taking analgesic medications like acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen. Chronic tension headaches may need tricyclic anti-depressants like imipramine for effective relief of headache. Gentle massage of the neck muscles, relaxation therapy and heat application constitute non-medical modality which has proven to be quite beneficial in some individuals.