This is the most common headache comprising 85 90 percent of the headache problems seen by doctors. A dull pain and tight feeling around the scalp or neck characterize it. A tension headache affects the entire head and sometimes the neck and shoulders. The headache occurs from increase in muscle tension due to anxiety, depression or physical stress. Occasionally it occurs during the menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes.
Chances of tension headache increase with stress, fatigue and staying in hot stuffy environments. Get enough rest. Minimize stress. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and audiotapes designed to relieve tension may work wonders. Exercising daily for just 20 minutes may prevent the headaches. Avoid food additives such as nitrites, sulfites or MSG (monosodium glutamate) which may start an attack. Additives such as sulfites may be found in red wine. Start a diary for everything you eat or drink. It may help you find the culprit.
Aspirin or other over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Excedrin may relieve the headache. The anti-spasm medication Zanaflex is also effective. You can try a massage to the back, shoulders or neck area. Apply moist heat to the back of the shoulders to relax tense muscles. Your doctor may utilize biofeedback or hypnosis to help you relax. If your headache is associated with depression your doctor may prescribe antidepressants such as Lexapro or Elavil. When needed your doctor may perform nerve blocks by injecting anesthetic medications to relax tense muscles in your scalp.