[Tension-type headache]

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2005 Jul;161(6-7):720-2. doi: 10.1016/s0035-3787(05)85128-8.
[Article in French]


The diagnosis of tension-type headache (TTH), a heterogeneous syndrome, is mainly based on the absence of typical features found in other headaches such as migraine. However TTH is the most common headache as about 80 percent of the general population suffer from episodic TTH and 3 percent have chronic TTH (CTTH). The underlying pathophysiology is complex. The present consensus is that peripheral pain mechanisms most likely play a role in infrequent and frequent episodic TTH whereas central pain mechanisms play a more important role in CTTH. Ibuprofen (800 mg) is currently the leading choice for the treatment of acute TTH because of its very good gastro-intestinal tolerance, followed by sodium naproxen (825 mg). Tricyclic antidepressants are the most widely used first-line therapeutic agents for CTTH (amitriptyline is the most widely used). Other preventive treatments such as relaxation, muscular biofeedback and behavioural (cognitive) techniques have also showed efficacy. It is demonstrated that the combination of stress management therapy and a tricyclic is more effective in CTTH than either behavioral or drug treatment alone.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Tension-Type Headache / classification
  • Tension-Type Headache / drug therapy
  • Tension-Type Headache / physiopathology*
  • Tension-Type Headache / prevention & control
  • Tension-Type Headache / therapy