Tension headaches or tension-type headaches were formerly called “muscle contraction headaches.” They are often described as dull aches, pressure, or tightness on both sides of the head. They can be further classified into frequent or infrequent episodic or chronic tension type headaches.
Tension headaches typically do not require an official diagnosis if they are not very severe or frequent and do not occur secondary to another health condition. Tension headaches can be differentiated from other types of headaches because they usually respond to over-the-counter treatments such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Whether certain dietary supplements help tension headache has not been explored at length in clinical research or clinical guidelines. Limited research has been conducted with melatonin, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), and riboflavin.
Certain modalities are beneficial for stress reduction and also seem to help reduce tension headaches. Some examples include acupuncture, chiropractics, trigger point therapy, massage, magnet therapy, and others. Click here to read more.
The exact cause of tension headaches is unknown and can differ if the tension headache is infrequent or frequent (chronic). Some research suggests that the pain occurs from muscle tenderness and nerve sensitization on the outside of the head. This can be brought on by stress, poor posture, and possibly weak neck muscles. Increased frequency of tension headache is thought to occur because the nerves around the head become more and more sensitive over time.
Episodic headaches can be secondary to factors such as poor sleep, muscle tension, eye strain, low blood sugar, and others.