Disease: Tension Headache Most headaches are tension headaches.
These headaches tend to happen again and again, especially if you are under stress. They are not usually a sign of something serious. But they can be very painful and hard to live with. Synonym: Muscle Contraction Headache A tension-type headache is a recurrent headache that can last minutes to days. The pain often is described as pressing or tightening, of mild or moderate intensity, felt on both sides of the head, and does NOT worsen with physical activity. Tension-type headache is usually not associated with nausea or sensitivity to light or noise. Etiology Experts once thought that tension or spasms in the muscles of your neck, face, and head played a role. Now they think a change in brain chemicals may also be a cause. It could be Emotional or physical stress may cause contraction of the muscles in the neck and scalp. • Stress
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Depression and anxiety Poor posture Working in awkward positions or holding one position for a long time Jaw clenching
Clinical Manifestations Signs of tension headaches include:
A headache that is constant, not throbbing. You usually feel the pain or pressure on both sides of your head. Pressure that makes you feel like your head is in a vise. Aching pain at your temples or the back of your head and neck. Steady, constant feeling of pressure that usually begins in the forehead, or the back of the neck. Tension headaches tend to come back, especially when you are under stress. They can last from 30 minutes to several days. Constant pain that does not throb or pulse. You usually feel the pain or pressure on both sides of your head. Tightness around your forehead that may feel like a “vise grip” Mild to moderate pain or pressure affecting the front, top or sides of the head Headache occurring later in the day Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep Chronic fatigue Irritability Disturbed concentration Mild sensitivity to light or noise General muscle aching
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Usually, pain from a tension headache is not severe and does not get in the way of your work or social life. But for some people the pain is very bad or lasts a long time. You have chronic tension headaches if they occur at least 15 days a month. Diagnostic Procedure/ Lab Works • A lumbar puncture, a test in which your doctor uses a needle to remove a small amount of fluid from your spinal canal. The fluid is then looked at for signs of infection. • An electroencephalogram (EEG), a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain by using sensors (electrodes) attached to your head and connected by wires to a computer.
An MRI scans of your brain, a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of your brain. A CT scan of your head, a test in which a scanner directs a series of X-ray pulses through your head. This produces detailed pictures of structures inside the head.
Medical Management Nonprescription drugs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, usually reduce the pain you get with a tension headache. But try to avoid taking nonprescription drugs more than 3 times a week, because you may get rebound headaches. Rebound headaches are different from tension headaches. They are usually triggered after pain medicine has worn off, prompting you to take another dose. Eventually, you get a headache whenever you stop taking the medicine. Prescription drugs. If nonprescription drugs do not relieve your headache, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicine to treat your pain. You may be prescribed:
Antidepressants such as mirtazapine (Remeron) and the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline. When taken daily, these medicines can help reduce how often tension headaches occur and how long they last. Seizure medicines or anti anxiety drugs. These medicines are not often used to treat tension headaches.
Generic Name Acetaminophen Aspirin
Brand Name Tylenol
Use Pain relief
Possible Side Effects Few side effects, if taken as directed, although they may include: changes in blood counts and liver damage
Bayer Bufferin Pain relief Ecotrin Pain relief Prevention of tension headaches; migraines; hormone headaches Prevention of tension headaches; migraines Treatment of tension headache; migraines
Do not use in children under age 20 years due to the potential for Reye's syndrome (a life-threating neurological condition) Do not use in children under 14 years of age due to the potential for Reyes syndrome
Heartburn, gastrointestinal bleeding, bronchospasm or constriction that causes narrowing of the airways, anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction), ulcers Few side effects, if taken as directed, although they may include: changes in blood counts, liver damage Nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, dizziness, drowsiness Gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, dizziness, vision problems, ulcers Gastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, rash, liver damage Gastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, rash, liver damage Constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting Gastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, rash, liver damage Stomach upset, bloating, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of appetite Gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, dizziness, vision problems, ulcers Nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, dizziness, drowsiness Dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, headache, nervousness, skin rash, bleeding Drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness, blurred vision
Aspirin, acetaminophen, Excedrin and caffeine Migraine Fenoprofen Flurbiprofen Nalfon Ansaid
Ibuprofen Ketaprofen Nabumetone Naproxen
Advil Motrin IB Treatment of tension headache; Nuprin migraines Actron Orudis KT Relafen Aleve Prevention of tension headaches; migraines Treatment of migraines Prevention of tension headaches; migraines Prevention of tension headaches; hormone headaches Treatment of migraines Treatment of tension headache; migraines Treatment of tension headache Treatment of tension headache Treatment of tension headache Treatment of tension headache
Diclofenac Ketorolac Meclofenate Carisoprodol Orphenadrine citrate
Cataflam Toradol Meclomen Soma Norflex
Methocarbamol Cyclobenzaprine HCL Metaxalone Nursing Management
Robaxin Flexeril Skelaxin
Treatment of tension headache Treatment of tension headache Treatment of tension headache
Dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, darkening of urine Dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness Drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness
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Do relaxation exercises to reduce muscle tension and stress, which may help reduce the frequency and duration of tension headaches. Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor to prevent and treat your tension headaches. This will also help you to avoid getting rebound headaches, which can be caused by overusing pain relievers. Identify your headache triggers and determine whether your headaches are becoming more severe, by keeping a headache diary Seek help if you think your tension headaches may be linked to depression or anxiety. Proper treatment of these conditions may reduce the frequency of your headaches, as well as relieve your symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Good health habits - including adequate sleep, healthy diet, regular exercise, and good stress management -- are important, along with the following specific measures for headache management. Quitting smoking is essential in reducing the risks for all headaches. Pressure, Heat, and Cold -An ancient and potentially effective remedy for tension headaches uses pressure applied to the head (such as a headband or a towel wrapped around the head) plus either heat or cold. In one study, 87% of headache sufferers experienced significant relief, and the rest reported moderate relief while they were wearing special headbands that could be tightened. They applied packs that were frozen or heated in a microwave. (Either heat or cold packs were useful, although people with tension headaches generally preferred cold packs.) Dietary Factors -A healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fats (animal fats) is important to everyone. Fish (particularly oily fish, such as salmon and tuna) and soy are protein sources that may be a good alternative to red meats. Caffeine. In some people with headaches, caffeine appears to be an excellent companion to medications. One study found that the caffeine equivalent of two and a half of cups of coffee can help treat a tension-type headache by itself. Many medications contain combinations of pain or anxiety relievers and caffeine, which boosts pain-relieving potency and counters drowsiness. Taking ibuprofen along with caffeine is even more effective than either substance alone. (It should be noted that in some people with migraines, the tannin found in coffee or tea may be a trigger for the headache. In addition, withdrawal from caffeine is a major cause of headache.) Treatment of Sleep Disorders -Headaches that occur during the night and early morning may be related to sleep disorders. One study reported that treating an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or insomnia, in patients who also had headaches resulted in headache cure or improvement in all patients except those who suffered from restless legs syndrome.
Pathogenesis Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headaches. They can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, hunger, anger, fatigue, overexertion, poor posture, and muscle strain. Tension headaches may come on suddenly or gradually. Prolonged sitting, having poor posture, or eyestrain can also trigger tension headaches. The headache may disappear after you relax or take a nonprescription pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days. If you have at least 15 tension headaches a month over a 6-month period, you may have chronic tension headaches. Chronic headaches can lead to stress and depression, which in turn can prolong the cycle of headaches. Treatment is available to reduce the frequency or stop the occurrence of chronic tension headaches. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Cause and pathophysiology Various precipitating factors may cause TTH in susceptible individuals. One half of patients with TTH identify stress or hunger as a precipitating factor .
Stress - Usually occurs in the afternoon after long stressful work hours or after an exam
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Sleep deprivation Uncomfortable stressful position and/or bad posture Irregular meal time (hunger) Eyestrain Caffeine withdrawal
Until recently it was believed that tension headaches were caused by muscle tension around the head and neck. One of the theories says that the main cause for tension type headaches and migraine is teeth clenching which causes a chronic contraction of the temporalis muscle. Although muscle tension may be involved, many researchers now question this idea, and recent research has shown that tension headache patients do not have increased muscle tension Another theory is that the pain may be caused by a malfunctioning pain filter which is located in the brain stem. The view is that the brain misinterprets information, for example from the temporal muscle or other muscles, and interprets this signal as pain. One of the main neurotransmitters which is probably involved is serotonin. Evidence for this theory comes from the fact that chronic tension-type headaches may be successfully treated with certain antidepressants such as amitriptyline. However, the analgesic effect of amitriptyline in chronic tension-type headache is not solely due to serotonin reuptake inhibition, and likely other mechanisms are involved. Recent studies of nitric oxide (NO) mechanisms suggest that NO may play a key role in the pathophysiology of CTTH.. The sensitization of pain pathways may be caused by or associated with activation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and the generation of NO. Patients with chronic tension-type headache have increased muscle and skin pain sensitivity, demonstrated by low mechanical, thermal and electrical pain thresholds. Hyperexcitability of central nociceptive neurons (in trigeminal spinal nucleus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex) is believed to be involved in the pathophysiology of chronic tension-type headache. Recent evidence for generalized increased pain sensitivity or hyperalgesia in CTTH strongly suggests that pain processing in the central nervous system is abnormal in this primary headache disorder. Moreover, a dysfunction in pain inhibitory systems may also play a role in the pathophysiology of chronic tension-type headache
TENSION HEADACHES Tension headaches occur as the muscles of the back of the neck closest to the spine and at the base of the head (occiput) get excessively tense. The tension of these muscles pulls upon the scalp and, according to recent medical research, upon the inside lining of the skull (the dura mater). Pain results. Tensions existing more on one side than the other create headaches more on one side than the other; tension near the base of the head in back may cause pain in the temples, forehead, or eyes; tension at the base of the skull behind the nasal cavity and in the back of the throat causes sinus headaches. In all cases, the sensation of heightened muscular tension is experienced as a headache. As muscles relax and this tension eases, the tension headache decreases in size and intensity, then fades out.
Headache is the result of pain signals caused by interactions between the brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves. During a headache, the pain does not come from the brain contrary to what many sufferers believe. Rather, the pain comes from activated nerves surrounding the skull, blood vessels, and head muscles. The reasons-why these nerves in the head are activatedare not understood. However, activation of specific nerves in the head sends pain signals to the brain that are interpreted as a "headache."