Tension Type Headache Or Muscle Contraction Headache

Muscle Contraction Headache or Acute Tension Type Headache occurs in about 50% of the population on a monthly basis but is usually low impact which is why it is not seen a lot in primary care. Typically the tension headache is mild to moderate only, non-pulsating and bilateral. Sensory sensitivity to noise or light is more likely to be associated with migraine. Difficulties arise when patients who are suffering from migraine are misdiagnosed as having tension headache. They then do not receive appropriate management. Patients often describe the pain as a "feeling of tightness or squeezing'. The causes of tension headache are not known. It is possible but rare to get tension headache without exacerbations -causing daily or near daily background symptoms. This is part of the Chronic Daily Headache Syndrome and needs managing as such.


Effective management of tension headache usually consists of OTC analgesics such as paracetamol (acetaminophen -USA), aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAID) as well as massage, relaxation or even a hot bath. To monitor your stress consider taking the SPIĀ© test

Source: Dr Andrew Dowson

Publication Date: July 2003


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