Munson Health
 
Tension Headache

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by Wood D

(Muscle Contraction Headache; Tension-Type Headache)

 

Treatment

There are no specific cures for tension headaches, but they can be managed. Therapies aim to stop the headache and reduce the frequency of future episodes.
Treatment may include:

Self-care During the Headache

Self-care may include:
  • Rest if needed
  • An ice pack or heat pack on your head or neck to ease discomfort
  • A warm shower, with water running over tense muscles

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes may include:
  • Regular exercise
  • Improving your posture
  • Adequate sleep
  • Regular breaks from tasks
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Counseling to:
    • Develop new coping skills
    • Identify events that trigger the headaches and work toward resolution

Additional Therapies

Additional therapies may include:
  • Acupuncture—to have more headache-free days and lessen the intensity of headaches when they do occur
  • Physical therapy—to develop a home exercise program.
  • Massage therapy
 

RESOURCES

American Headache Society
http://www.americanheadachesociety.org

National Headache Foundation
http://www.headaches.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Headache Network Canada
http://www.headachenetwork.ca

Help for Headaches
http://www.headache-help.org

 

References


Dambro MR. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.


Goetz CG. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co; 1999.


Melchart D, Streng A, Hoppe A, et al. Acupuncture in patients with tension-type headache: randomized controlled trial. Brit Med J. 2005;331:376-379.


NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/headache.htm. Updated November 8, 2013. Accessed December 30, 2013..


Rakel RE, Bope ET. Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.


Tension headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 19, 2013. Accessed December 30, 2013.


Tension-type headache. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache%5FTopic%5FSheets/Tension-Type%5FHeadache. Accessed December 30, 2013.


12/16/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Jena S, Witt CM, Brinkhaus B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with headache. Cephalalgia. 2008;28:969-979.


8/27/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Robberstad L, Dyb G, Hagen K, Stovner LJ, Holmen TL, Zwart JA. An unfavorable lifestyle and recurrent headaches among adolescents: The HUNT Study. Neurology. 2010;75(8):712-717.

 

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