Tension headache is the commonest form of headache. It is diagnosed when headaches occur all day every day or very frequently. The pain is bilateral usually and is a pressure or tense pain around the scalp. It is of mild to moderate severity usually and not associated with much nausea and vomiting or the other features typical of migraine. There are a lot of patients who get a mixture of tension headache and migraine headache.


Cause of Tension Headache

The cause of tension headache is just not known. 




The treatment of tension headache is not that different from migraine.


Identify life events and environmental situations that are causing pressure


  1. Disturbed sleep pattern is frequently associated with tension headache
  2. Physical measures such as physiotherapy, the use of hot and cold pads, vibration and massage on the neck and scalp muscles can be helpful
  3. Relaxation exercises with yoga
  4. Counselling if major life stresses
  5. The use of preventative drug therapy



For chronic tension headache syndrome, painkillers really have no role. There is a significant risk of developing the so-called analgesic dependent headache syndrome where there is an abuse or over-use of analgesic medication which in turn leads to more headache. This particular situation can be very difficult to treat and does need specialist referral


Prophylactic agents similar to those used in migraine can be given on a regular basis to block the headache.