What causes tension headaches?

Updated: Nov 21, 2017
  • Author: Michelle Blanda, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

Stress may cause contraction of neck and scalp muscles, although no evidence confirms that the origin of pain is sustained muscle contraction.

  • Stress and/or anxiety

  • Poor posture

  • Depression

One study showed that patients with tension-type headache (TTH) have relatively weak neck extension muscles. According to results, these patients are 26% weaker than controls with respect to neck extension muscles, that they have a 12% smaller extension/flexion ratio, and that they have a borderline significant difference in the ability to generate muscle force over the shoulder joint. [5, 6]


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