A tension headache is the most common type of headache. It is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, and is often associated with muscle tightness in these areas.
Tension-type headache; Muscle contraction headache; Headache - benign; Headache - tension; Chronic headaches - tension; Rebound headaches - tension
Tension headaches occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract. The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, head injury, or anxiety.
They may occur at any age, but are most common in adults and older teens.
Any activity that causes the head to be held in 1 position for a long time without moving can cause a headache. Activities may include typing or other computer work, fine work with the hands, and using a microscope. Sleeping in a cold room or sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may also trigger a tension headache.
Other triggers of tension headaches include:
- Physical or emotional stress
- Alcohol use
- Caffeine (too much or withdrawal)
- Colds, the flu, or a sinus infection
- Dental problems such as jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- Eye strain
- Excessive smoking
- Fatigue or overexertion
Tension headaches can occur when you also have a migraine. Tension headaches are not associated with brain diseases.