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I Suffer From Tension Type Headache

Tension Type Headache

According to the International Headache Society, Tension Type Headache is the most common type of primary headache, which accounts to almost 90% of all headache types. It has a lifetime prevalence worldwide ranging up to 78%.

Although the pain intensity ranges from mild to moderate, it can still leave those suffering from this condition to become disabled due to the constant, annoying and long-lasting nature of this condition.

At Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinics, we expect to observe significant improvement within the first 5 treatment consultations. We have treated countless patients with impressive results. Plus our treatment is medication-free, surgery-free, and invasive-free! Book a consultation with our tension headache specialist today!

Understanding your Headache

Tension Type symptoms

Tension Type Headache is usually felt by a constant pressing, tightening and squeezing discomfort on both sides of the head. Sufferers normally describe their pain as if they were wearing a tight helmet, which can become tighter and tighter around their head. The pain intensity can range from mild to moderate and can last anywhere between 30 minutes and up to 7 days. Nausea or vomiting is not a feature of tension type headache however, sensitivity to light or sound can be.

There are two types of Tension Type Headaches:

1. Episodic Tension Type Headache

Episodic Tension Type Headache is characterized by the frequency of attack days per month.

It usually occurs if the person suffers less than 15 attack days per month for at least three months and can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 7 days.

Recent international research have found the average prevalence is 36% for men and 42% for women. If Episodic tension type headache worsen overtime it may form into chronic tension headache.


2. Chronic Tension Type Headache

Chronic Tension Type Headache is characterized by the frequency of attack days per month.

Unlike episodic tension headache, chronic tension headache occurs if the person suffers more than 15 attack days per month for at least three months. Some sufferers may have a continuous headache lasting all day for 10-30 years or more.

Chronic tension type headache is usually resistant to painkillers, and at times sufferers can also experience migraines in conjunction with their chronic tension headaches.

Vertigo Headaches

Understanding Your Headache

What is the cause of Tension Type Headache?

The traditional and old theory of the cause of Tension Type Headache was due to an increase in muscular tension around the head and scalp causing the tension type headache. Recent studies have proved this theory wrong, as researchers have found the tension in the scalp from those with tension headache to be no greater than those who were not suffering from headaches.

Recent discoveries and research have found the primary contributing factor of Tension Type Headache to be related to the neck; predominantly a fault in the upper cervical spine resulting in a SENSITISED BRAINSTEM to induce Tension Headaches. Interestingly, studies as early as in the year 1977 have found, through EMG, that the scalp muscle activation did not change, however, the muscles around the neck showed increased activity.  This indicated a fault within the neck with those suffering from Tension Headaches rather than tension around the head.

About The Assessment Stage

What To Expect During The Assessment

1. Comprehensive and in-depth examination

We instigate an in-depth assessment to identify all possible related factors that could be causing your headaches or migraines. The upper cervical spine, in particular, is thoroughly examined to identify possible issues.

2. Ligamental stability and vertebral arterial tests

We undertake careful examination of neck ligaments and vertebral arteries, ensuring only the highest standards of patient safety and comfort.

3. Temporarily reproduce your headache and migraine symptoms

As a part of the treatment process, we apply gentle and selective stress to the upper cervical spine in order to reproduce headache symptoms, which subside after 20-30 seconds. This helps to identify and treat the cause of your headaches.

Difference between Tension Type Headaches and Migraines


Tension type headache is different to migraine, and sufferers are often incorrectly diagnosed. Most people may not understand the difference between the two, and often use both terms to label their headaches incorrectly.

• Tension type headache will have mild to moderate pain, whereas migraine pain is usually more significant and can reach up to severe disabling pain.

• Tension type headache pain is usually felt bilaterally on both sides of the head, whereas migraine pain is unilaterally and felt on one side of the head

• Tension type headache does not get worse with normal every day-to-day activities and movements. However unlike migraine, simple movements, activities, work or even sport can often exacerbate and worsen a migraine.

Tension Type Headache

• Pain is bilateral and all over

• Pain is mild to moderate

• Pain is felt like a squeezing, tightening, pressure pain

• No nausea or vomiting

• Movement and activities does not worsen the headache

• No visual disturbances

• Occurs without warning


• Pain is unilaterally and on one side

• Pain is moderate to severe

• Pain is felt like a severe throbbing and pulsating pain

• Nausea and vomiting is often present

• Movement and activities can worsen the migraine

• Visual disturbances

• Can occur with warning signs or aura

I’ve tried everything! What else can be done to help my Tension Type Headache?

Treating your Tension Type Headache

If you suffer from episodic or chronic tension type headache and have tried everything with no relief, we suggest you see a dedicated clinic that deals solely with headaches and migraines. If you haven’t had your brainstem assessed to see whether it is causing your tension type headache, we recommend you get this assessed by a headache clinician.

At the Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic™, we see countless amount of patients with  Tension Type Headaches and utilise world-class techniques in assessing and treating this problem. A thorough examination of the upper cervical spine is initiated to determine the severity of your SENSITISED BRAINSTEM.

The best part about the treatment is being medication-free, surgery-free and invasive-free.

Tools for managing migraines.