Tension Headaches Ranked as the Most Common Headache Disorder

Tension headaches are among the most common headache disorders we encounter at National Headache Institute. Fortunately, our experience with tension headaches has given us a high level of expertise in how to properly treat them.

Also referred to as stress headaches, the causes of tension headaches are not accurately known. It is believed that in some people, these headaches are caused by some kind of internal or external stress—troubled personal or professional lives, work pressures, child birth, lack of sleep, and being overworked. Thankfully, the headache manifests itself in mild to moderate pain and usually doesn’t hamper the daily activities of an individual.

Before being re-classified by the International Headache Society (IHS), the term “tension headache” was applied to any headache related to psychopathology or caused by excess muscle tension and contraction.

In 1988, the IHS split the category into two classifications: episodic tension-type headaches (ETTH) and chronic tension-type headaches (CTTH).

Today, tension headaches are the most common headache disorders in the U.S., affecting women more than men at a ratio of five to four.

ETTH Characteristics

  • Lasts from 30 minutes to several days
  • Bilateral
  • Mild to moderate intensity
  • Tightening, pressing, non-pulsating pain
  • Not aggravated by exertion
  • Absent of vomiting, nausea, phonophobia (abnormal sensitivity to noise), or photophobia (inability to tolerate light).
  • Occurs fewer than 15 times a month

 

CTTH Characteristics

  • Lasts from 30 minutes to several days
  • Bilateral
  • Severe intensity
  • Tightening, pressing, non-pulsating pain
  • Not aggravated by exertion
  • Absent of vomiting, nausea, phonophobia or photophobia
  • Occurs 15 or more times a month
  • Associated with overuse of medication

Tension headaches may be episodic when the pain occurs for less than 15 days in a month or chronic when the headaches are experienced for more than 15 days in a month. The severity of tension headaches spikes with the frequency of occurrence. The episodic headaches manifest as a tight band of pain around the forehead or the back of the head and neck regions. They may last from half-an-hour to up to several days and the intensity increases gradually over a period of time. The chronic form of tension headaches manifests in an intermittent throbbing pain that affects the top, front, or the sides of the head. The intensity of the pain varies throughout the day but is nevertheless present at all times.

Medicinal Therapies Treat Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are not difficult to treat and they are known to respond favorably to the right treatment method, which is to be of course, decided by a qualified physician. In some individuals, non-drug treatment methodologies like stress management counseling, and relaxation therapies work wonders. Medicines like analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-depressants are prescribed to some individuals to treat their cases of tension headaches.

Medication can be effective in the treatment of tension-type headaches. Prescribed medication usage must be monitored for signs of overuse, which could lead to an episodic tension-type headache converting to a chronic headache.

Drugs used to treat tension-type headaches are anti-inflammatories like Celebrex, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories Naproxen and Ibuprofen, Analgesics such as Firorinal and Tylenol with Codeine, mild analgesics like Acetaminophen and Aspirin and stress reducers Tranxene, Buspar and Xanax.

DOES CELEBREX HELP FOR TENSION-TYPE HEADACHES?

Medication can be effective in the treatment of tension-type headaches. Prescribed medication usage must be monitored for signs of overuse which could lead to an episodic tension-type headache converting to chronic. Drugs used to treat tension-type headaches are anti-inflammatories like Celebrex, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories Naproxen and Ibuprofen, Analgesics such as Firorinal and Tylenol with Codeine, mild analgesics like Acetaminophen and Aspirin and stress reducers Tranxene, Buspar and Xanax.

Behavioral therapies effective against tension-type headaches include relaxation therapy, biofeedback, stress management, electrical muscle stimulation, hot and cold therapy, massage and ultrasound.