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Muscle contraction headache

Muscle contraction headache: Introduction

A muscle contraction headache is a very common type of headache. The exact cause of muscle contraction headaches is uncertain, but they may be the result of a disturbance of brain chemicals and/or a straining of the muscles of the neck, jaw, shoulders, scalp, or face. Muscle contraction headaches can occur infrequently, or they can affect some people nearly every day. Muscle contraction headaches occur in most age groups and populations but are most common in teens and adults.

Muscle contraction headaches are often described as achy or dull or a having a feeling of tightness around the scalp. The severity of a muscle contraction headache can vary greatly between episodes and individuals. Complications are possible with chronic muscle contraction headaches. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of muscle contraction headache.

Muscle contraction headaches can be triggered by one or more specific substances or situations. Triggers vary greatly between different people and what may trigger a muscle contraction headache in one person may not be a trigger in another person. Common triggers include hunger, alcohol, smoking, overeating, anxiety, stress, noise, not getting enough sleep and fatigue. Other triggers can include teeth grinding (bruxism), jaw clenching, neck injury, such as cervical strain, coughing, sneezing, and poor posture. Certain foods may trigger a muscle contraction headache in some people. Muscle contraction headaches may also be due to the side effect of medications or to hormonal changes of premenstrual syndrome.

Making a diagnosis of muscle contraction headache includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms, and physical examination. This includes a neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the brain and nerves and such functions as level of consciousness, reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing. A referral to a neurologist, a specialist in treating neurological conditions, may be made for definitive diagnosis of muscle contraction headache. Consulting with a neurologist or a pain medicine specialist may also be needed to treat chronic muscle contraction headaches.

For chronic muscle contraction headaches, the diagnostic process also involves keeping a muscle contraction headache log or diary to record the timing, symptoms, and the types of situations that occurred or substances that were ingested before the muscle contraction headache occurred. This can help to diagnose triggers and assist in making lifestyle changes that can minimize muscle contraction headaches. The type of treatment and its results are also recorded to help pinpoint the most effective treatment for an individual.

A diagnosis is made based on a history of symptoms typical of muscle contraction headaches after ruling out other, potentially life-threatening diseases and conditions with symptoms that mimic muscle contraction headache. These include stroke, and meningitis. Depending on the symptoms and individual case, this diagnostic process may require imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scan and possibly a lumbar puncture.

It is possible that a diagnosis of muscle contraction headache can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be mild, infrequent, and/or similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic muscle contraction headache, refer to misdiagnosis of muscle contraction headache.

In many cases, patient compliance with a good treatment plan can control symptoms of muscle contraction headache to a degree that allows a person to live a normal active life. Treatment plans include medications and avoiding substances and situations that can trigger a muscle contraction headache. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of muscle contraction headache. ...more »

Muscle contraction headache: A type of headache caused by tension or sustained muscle contraction. The pain is usually a steady pain and other symptoms may include a sore scalp, nausea and blurred vision. Degenerative arthritis of the neck, temporomandibular joint dysfunction or physical postures may trigger one of these headaches. ...more »

Muscle contraction headache: Symptoms

Symptoms of muscle contraction headaches can vary between individuals and can be described as being achy, dull, or feeling a tightness or squeezing around the scalp. A muscle contraction headache can be mild to moderate and affect the entire head or only a certain area of the head. It is often described as starting in the back of the head and spreading to ...more symptoms »

Muscle contraction headache: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for muscle contraction headaches uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific triggers and severity of muscle contraction headaches, the patient's age, medical history, and other factors.

Treatment of muscle contraction headache begins with prevention. This starts with maintaining ...more treatments »

Muscle contraction headache: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of muscle contraction headache may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms can be mild or infrequent. In addition, some symptoms can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as migraine, cluster headache, stroke, transient ischemia attack, meningitis, brain tumor, subdural hemorrhage, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Muscle contraction headache

Treatments for Muscle contraction headache

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Types of Muscle contraction headache

Causes of Muscle contraction headache

  • Degenerative arthritis of the neck
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) - problems with biting and the jaw.
  • more causes...»

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