Types Of Headache

Types Of Headache: Tension Type Headache

  One of the most common types of headaches, tension type headache is felt as a dull, aching pain, which sometimes becomes severe. However, it does not have any specific location and is spread over the region of the neck or the scalp. The pain is non-pulsating in nature, affecting both sides of the head.

As the name suggests, it is caused by tensing of the muscles of the back and the neck. When these muscles contract, the pain starts, which might be accompanied by a feeling of tightness or pressure on the head.

This extremely common headache is quite different from other kinds of headaches as it usually starts as a dull, aching pain or as a tightness and builds up to a severe intensity. Noticeably, it is quite different from the cluster headaches which build up in a matter of minutes and end just as quickly.

But then they are similar to migraine in the sense that there might be certain precipitating factors which might increase the pain. Bright lights, sounds and other environmental stresses contribute to the list.

The tension-type headache can be further classified into two types - episodic and chronic headache. This is differentiated on the basis of severity and frequency of symptoms. Although the symptoms for both are quite similar, yet there are some other factors on the basis of which they can be distinguished. But first, let us take a look at the common symptoms.

In both the cases, the muscles of the head and the neck contract. Hence, there is a tightening sensation around the head and the neck. The pain can occur in the forehead, temples, neck or back.


Coming to the differences between the two, the episodic form of headache occurs randomly and can be triggered by a host of stress causing factors. Any stressful situation is usually the main culprit in this type of headache. For example, a stress-inducing situation like an accident or the death of a loved one may lead to an episodic headache.

But then there may be other factors like strain to the eye or environmental factors like temperature. Also abnormal pressure on certain parts of the body, poor posture and sleeping conditions may trigger an episodic headache.

But usually it is mild enough to be treated with removing the source of tension, relaxing for a while or if the pain persists, then using over-the-counter medications.

A chronic-tension type headache is a daily or continuous headache and is almost always present. There might be some variability in the pattern of the pain.

It may be the result of either anxiety or depression. Even if the patient is not depressed, he is prescribed a course of anti-depressants which might be beneficial for him. The symptoms may range from changes in the sleep pattern or insomnia, feelings of guilt, weight loss, dizziness, poor concentration to fatigue and nausea. In this case, the patient may try out biofeedback techniques which might be useful.