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Tension Type Headache

About Tension-type Headache

What Is A Tension-type Headache?

Tension-type headaches are a common form of primary headache disorder, characterised by a dull, non-throbbing pain that feels like a tight band around the head. While they are not typically severe or life-threatening, tension-type headaches can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. The fact that it is a ‘primary’ headache disorder means that there is no cause for the headache occurring, but this can be difficult to determine. Cervicogenic headaches can present in a remarkably similar way as tension-type headaches, so often an upper neck assessment is an important for a correct diagnosis.


Tension-type headaches are often described as a bilateral pressure or tightness around the forehead, temples, or back of the head. The pain is usually mild to moderate in intensity and does not worsen with routine physical activity. Unlike migraines, tension-type headaches are not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound but if they are the symptoms are very mild.


Tension-type Headache Diagnosis

How Do We Diagnose A Tension-type Headache?

Diagnosing tension-type headaches involves a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. The healthcare provider may ask questions about the frequency, duration, and characteristics of the headaches. It is essential to rule out other plausible causes of headaches before confirming tension-type headache diagnosis.

Tension-type Headache Symptoms


Mild to moderate painPain on both sides of head

Lasting from a few hours to several days, sometimes months or even years


Muscle tightness

·         Muscle tenderness or tightness in the scalp, neck, or shoulder muscles

No Sensitivity

Not usually associated with associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), or sound (phonophobia).

Treating Tension-type Headache With The Watson Headache® Approach

Tension-type Headache Treatment

Manual therapy using the Watson Headache® Approach can quite often provide substantial and long-lasting relief of these types of headache, especially if they are of the chronic variety. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs, can be effective in managing mild to moderate tension-type headaches. Identifying and managing stress triggers can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of tension-type headaches.

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