Where Do Tension Headaches Hurt?

Reviewed on 3/9/2021

Tension headaches mainly hurt in the forehead, temples, or the back of head and/or neck. Tension headaches may cause a dull, aching pain on both sides of the head, or a “vice-like” tightening in the head and neck.
Tension headaches mainly hurt in the forehead, temples, or the back of head and/or neck. Tension headaches may cause a dull, aching pain on both sides of the head, or a “vice-like” tightening in the head and neck.

Tension headaches mainly hurt in the forehead, temples, or the back of head and/or neck. 

Symptoms of tension headaches include head pain that:

  • Is dull, aching, and not throbbing 
  • Affects both sides of the head
  • Feels like a “vice-like” tightening band-like sensation around the neck and/or head

Other symptoms that may accompany a chronic tension headache include: 

What Are Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches are the most common form of headache, and they cause pressure or tightness on both sides of the head. 

There are two main types of tension headache

  • Episodic 
    • Occurs randomly 
    • Usually triggered by temporary stress, anxiety, fatigue, or anger
    • May go away after taking over-the-counter pain relievers, removing the source of stress, or a short period of relaxation
  • Chronic
    • Daily or continuous headache
    • Intensity of pain may vary, but is always present
    • Antidepressants are often prescribed to treat chronic tension headaches

What Causes Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches may be caused by:

QUESTION

A migraine is a result of neurological (nerve) dysfunction. See Answer

How Are Tension Headaches Diagnosed?

Tension headaches are diagnosed with the patient's history and a physical exam. Tests used to diagnose the type or cause of the headache include: 

What Is the Treatment for Headaches?

Treatment for tension headaches includes: 

How Do You Prevent Tension Headaches?

Some tension headaches may be prevented by avoiding headache triggers, such as:

  • Stress
  • Skipping meals 
  • Too much or too little caffeine
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Certain drinks or foods
  • Medications 

Relaxation techniques and stress management may also help prevent some tension headaches.

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Reviewed on 3/9/2021
References
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/causes-of-headaches

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/tension-type-headache-in-adults-acute-treatment?search=headache%20treatment%27&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://headaches.org/2007/10/25/tension-type-headache/