Tension headaches are divided into two main categories — episodic and chronic.
Episodic tension headaches
Episodic tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to a week. Frequent episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month for at least three months. Frequent episodic tension headaches may become chronic.
Chronic tension headaches
This type of tension headache lasts hours and may be continuous. If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for at least three months, they’re considered chronic.
The cause of tension headaches is not known. Experts used to think tension headaches stemmed from muscle contractions in the face, neck and scalp, perhaps as a result of heightened emotions, tension or stress. But research suggests muscle contraction isn’t the cause. The most common theory supports a heightened sensitivity to pain in people who have tension headaches. Increased muscle tenderness, a common symptom of tension headaches, may result from a sensitised pain system.
Stress is the most commonly reported trigger for tension headaches
Signs & Symptoms
- Dull, aching head pain
- Sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head
- Tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles