What Causes Tension Headaches?

What Causes Tension Headaches

Headaches come as many different types and have various origins. Moreover, medical records of headaches may vary in each individual case. It is important to identify the factors provoking headaches, such as food products or stress, while at the same time there is a need to conduct a physical examination in order to understand what causes a specific headache type.

What is a Tension Headache?

Tension headaches cannot be mixed up with a migraine because these two types of pain have different symptoms. If you take a closer look at one’s medical history, it will become clear that tension headaches have their own peculiarities and characteristics. This type is probably the most frequently occurring and is prevalent among both women and men of different ages.

What Provokes Tension Headaches?

When it comes to investigating the causes of tension headaches, there is a need to understand that the major cause of this type of headache has not yet to be discovered. However, many studies show that in most cases the provoking factor is the contraction of muscles covering the skull of a person.

When these muscles are under pressure, the inflammation begins to spread all over one’s head, which provokes spasm and, as a result, causes pain. The major areas that are affected by this headache are the base of one’s skull where the neck muscles are located as well as the temples where the muscles accountable for jaw movements are situated.

Apart from these areas, the forehead is also a common site for the development of this type of pain.

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Most commonly, tension headaches lead to the occurrence of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain starts spreading in the back of one’s head as well as near the neck, which is often explained by patients as pressure or the feeling of tightness in these areas;
  • The most acute pain is experienced at the temples and near the eyebrows;
  • Pain may have different intensity, but as a rule, it does not provoke disability as in the case of a migraine, for instance. This means that the victim of a tension headache can continue performing his/her everyday tasks;
  • Unlike migraines, a tension headache is accumulated from both sides of one’s head, and there are no symptoms like vomiting or nausea as well as sensitivity to sounds or light;
  • Pain does not have any clarified pattern so it may occur at random periods with no particular provoking factors;
  • Even though people who experience this type of pain feel much discomfort, they are still able to carry on with their normal lives.


There is actually very little research about what provokes tension headaches. It is suggested that they occur due to physical stress imposed on the head muscles. They may be caused by sitting at a table in front of the PC monitor and concentrating on monotonous work for a long duration of time. Emotional stress may also provoke tension headaches by causing the contraction of skull muscles.