Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, in which the pain is typically throbbing and affects the front, top, or sides of the head. Chronic tension headaches refer to pain that comes and goes over a prolonged period of time.
Although the pain of chronic tension headaches is almost always present throughout the day, it doesn’t affect a person’s vision or balance. Therefore, they usually won’t prevent a person from performing their daily activities.
There is no single cause of chronic tension headaches, but they are most commonly the result of stress. Other common causes may include:
- Inadequate rest
- Poor posture
Sufferers of chronic tension headaches have typically had the headaches for more than 2 or 3 months. Women are twice as likely to suffer from them than men.
Some symptoms of chronic tension headaches may include mild to moderate pain or pressure, difficulty falling asleep, chronic fatigue, and a mild sensitivity to light or noise.
Tension headaches are most effectively treated when the symptoms first begin, before they become more frequent and painful. Treatment typically consists of:
- Medications – pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and antidepressants
- Avoiding stress
- Relaxation training
- Biofeedback training
Although sometimes a chronic tension headache can be self-treated with an ice pack, warm bath, neck massage, or as simple as taking a nap.