Tension Headache and Tension

June 18, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

The medical model of headache and migraine recognises two conditions – migraine and tension-type headache. Recently the International Headache Society introduced a third ‘group’ of headaches; this group comprises Cluster Headache, Chronic Paroxysmal Hemicrania, SUNCT, and Hemicrania Continua.

In this model, the assumption has been the pain of tension headache arises from increased tension in the muscles of the scalp and forehead. However research has shown:

- that tension in muscles of the scalp and forehead in tension headache sufferers during a headache is no different to controls

- increased tension in the muscles of the neck in tension headache sufferers when compared to controls

- improved performance of the muscles of the upper neck reduced the severity and frequency of tension headache significantly

Perhaps then tension headache is an unrecognised cervicogenic (neck) headache?



(Bakal DA, Kaganov JA. Muscle Contraction and Migraine Headache: Psychophysiologic Comparison. Headache 1977;17(5):208215

Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edn. Cephalalgia 2004; 24(suppl.1):1-151

van Ettekoven H, Lucas C. Efficacy of physiotherapy including a craniocervical training programme for tension-type headache; a randomized clinical trial. Cephalalgia 2006; 26(8):983-91)

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About dean
Consultant Headache & Migraine Physiotherapist; International Teacher; Director, The Headache Clinic & Watson Headache Institute; PhD Candidate Murdoch University, Western Australia; Adjunct Lecturer, Masters Program, Physiotherapy School, University of South Australia; MAppSc(Res) GradDipAdvManipTher Experienced health practitioners trained in the Watson Headache Approach perform the examination and treatment techniques developed by Dean Watson. These techniques are based on his extensive experience of 7000 headache patients (21,000 hours) over 21 years and are now taught internationally. For your nearest practitioner who has completed training in the ‘Watson Headache Approach’ please refer to the ‘Practitioner Directory’.

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