What are the International Headache Society (HIS) diagnostic criteria for tension headaches?

Updated: Nov 21, 2017
  • Author: Michelle Blanda, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Pain onset in tension-type headache can have a throbbing quality and is usually more gradual than onset in migraines. Compared with migraines, tension-type headaches are more variable in duration, more constant in quality, and less severe.

IHS diagnostic criteria for tension-type headaches states that two of the following characteristics must be present [1] :

  • Pressing or tightening (nonpulsatile quality)

  • Frontal-occipital location

  • Bilateral - Mild/moderate intensity

  • Not aggravated by physical activity

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