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Tension Headache (cont.)

What are the signs and symptoms of a tension headache?

In general, a tension-type headache may cause diffuse (spread out, not in one place) pressure or tightness. Sometimes, muscles surrounding the head are tender.

  • The pain may be on both sides of the head, or it may cause an aching or squeezing sensation located in the forehead, temples, or back of the head with radiation to the neck and shoulders. Pain is usually moderate in intensity, not severely disabling, and not associated with the typical symptoms of migraine, such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to sound or light.
  • The onset of pain is usually gradual and not associated with any prodrome or period in which a person can feel a headache coming on.
  • People may associate the onset of a tension-type headache to periods during or after stress and usually toward the latter part of the day.
  • If the tension-type headache is present for more than 15 days a month or longer than 6 months, it is considered chronic rather than episodic.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Headache, Tension »

The International Headache Society (IHS) began developing a classification system for headaches in 1985.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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