What Are Tension Headaches & How Can I Relieve Them?

If you have experienced a tight, dull pain or felt pressure around the back of your head, neck or forehead, you may have been experiencing a tension headache. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache for adults. Doctors had previously seen many different terms used to describe tension headaches and as a result, The International Headache Society has deemed all headaches that show the above symptoms to be referred to as tension headaches. 

A tension headache will often feel like someone is squeezing your skull and causes mild to moderate pain usually on both the left and right sides of your skull. Tension headaches can be defined as not being accompanied by nausea and not pulsating. Tension headaches are not caused by disease and are not worsened with physical activity. 

There are two different types of tension headaches, episodic tension and chronic tension. Episodic is defined as happening less than 15 days per month and chronic is more than 15 days in a month. You can generally expect tension headaches to last from 30 minutes to anywhere like a few days. Chronic headaches are unfortunately almost always there. 

Tension headaches are extremely common and seen in up to 80% of adults at some point in time. Around 3% of the population experience chronic daily tension headaches and it is more commonly seen in women than men. They are caused by muscle contractions in the neck and head areas. There is a vast array of reasons for these contractions to occur ranging from stress, activities and diet. 

A list of reasons that may be contributing to your tension headaches includes; alcohol, driving, smoking, screen time, cold weather, being sick, dry eyes, stress, poor posture.

There are some symptoms of headaches which should be checked as soon as possible and may relate to something more serious. If you experience one or more of the following, please contact your therapist or doctor immediately. 

  1. Headaches which you feel are different to your usual type of headache
  2. Headaches with a stronger pain than you have felt before
  3. Any signs of memory loss, confusion, or decline in motor skills. 
  4. New headache onset after the age of 40
  5. Being woken up by a headache
  6. Headaches with symptoms such as nausea, fever or vomiting

Thankfully, physiotherapy can have an extremely effective influence on your tension headaches to relieve pain and discomfort quickly. Massage therapy is able to utilise the relaxation of muscles to take away excessive tension. Techniques such as unlocking stiff neck joints, addressing nerve dysfunction, correcting posture through stretching, taping and specific exercises. Physiotherapy can also be highly effective in identifying understrength muscles and offering techniques to enhance those without harming the overall composition of your body and muscle groups. Stretching, massage, acupuncture, dry needling is perfect for relieving tight and overactive muscles. 

Our therapists at Studio Musculoskeletal are experts at identifying and treating tension headaches. We are also experts in providing you with advice and guidance for ongoing management of headaches as well as how you can adjust your lifestyle to improve your quality of life. 

Book a session today.


The facility is clean and tidy and the staff are very professional and give great treatment and advice. Anyone struggling with muscle tightness should get in contact.