(Muscle Contraction Headache; Tension-Type Headache)
DefinitionTension headache refers to radiating, steady pain in the head, neck, or eyes that can be mild or intense. Tension headaches may be occasional or chronic.
|Tension Headache: Areas of Pain|
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CausesTension headaches may occur when muscles in the neck, face, and scalp contract. In some cases, muscle contraction is the result of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. In others, it may be unknown.
Risk FactorsTension headaches are more common in women. Other factors that may increase your risk of getting a tension headache include:
- History of teeth grinding or jaw clenching
- Sleep apnea or sleep disruption
- Poor posture
- Injuries or arthritis of the neck area
- Temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ)
- Low physical activity
SymptomsSome tension headaches are nearly constant, with daily pain that may vary in intensity. Other tension headaches only occur once in a while. Symptoms usually start slowly and build.Tension headache may cause:
- Constant, steady pain and pressure
- Dull and achy pain
- Pain which may be felt on both sides of the head, in the forehead, temples, and the back of the head
- Pressure may feel like a tight band around the head
- Intensity ranges from mild to severe and can vary during the day
- Tightness in head and neck muscles
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