What is a Tension-Type Headache?
A tension headache or tension-type headache is thought to be the most common type of headache. Usually people describe tension headaches as a tight and constricting band around their head. Pain generally increases as the day progresses with the pain at its worst in the late afternoon and early evening. Generally, the discomfort is reported as a dull and aching feeling across the forehead, at the temples, or at the base of the neck. Tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to a week. Some people experience these headaches rarely to occasionally while others report frequent episodes. A tension headache is different from migraine in that tension headaches are not usually associated with neurologic disturbances (changes in vision, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, sensitivity to light, sound and smell), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Although muscle tension and trigger points play a role in tension headaches, researchers now believe that abnormal changes in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) may be contributing to the cause. These headaches may be triggered by stress, anxiety, posture, clenching of the jaw, straining of the eyes and fatigue.