Move Freely | Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic | Edinburgh

Tension Headache: The most common type of headache

Tension Headache: The most common type of headache

Tension Headache: The most common type of headache.

This is how we start to address tension headaches here at Move Freely.

  • Accounts for nearly 90% of all headaches

  • Pain is typically mild to moderate

  • Usually presents as pain on both sides of the head

  • Pain often described as a “constant pressure” or “squeezing sensation”

  • An episode usually lasts for 4-6 hours

  • Women are more likely to experience tension headaches than men

  • Those between 30-39 years of age are at highest risk of developing tension headaches

Contributing Factors

  • Stress

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Bad posture

  • Prolonged uncomfortable positions

  • Eyestrain

  • Hunger


Your physiotherapist will perform a subjective and objective assessment to determine the possible causes of your headache. Here at Move Freely we believe that the most important part of addressing any headache issue is determining that actually cause of the headache, this is why the assessment process is so important.

Subjective Assessment will involve asking a series of clinical questions directly related to your pain and symptoms. Examples may include:

  • Are you aware of anything that triggers your headache/s?

  • Have you found anything that improves or worsens your headache/s?

  • Describe your typical day i.e. how long you spend at a desk

Objective Assessment involves your therapist performing various physical tests to find the cause of your headache/s. This usually includes:

  • Observing your neck, upper back and shoulder movements

  • Assessing your posture using Kinetisense 3D posture analysis

  • Performing strength testing of relevant muscles

  • Assessing the stiffness of joints in your neck and back

  • Assessing the tightness of muscles around your head, neck, upper back and shoulders


Depending on what your therapist finds in your assessment they can perform a variety of treatments to help cure your headache. Examples of this could include:

  • Deep tissue massage and/or trigger point therapy to relieve muscle tension

  • Joint Mobilisation – a technique involving varying amounts of pressure to certain joints in your spine to help relieve stiffness, pain and restore normal movement. Your therapist may choose to use TAMARS (Technology Assisted Mobilisation and Reflex Stimulation) to achieve the desired results

  • Acupuncture or Dry Needling – these techniques involve inserting find sterile, single-use needles to relax muscle tension, reduce pain and promote tissue healing


*Please tell your therapist if you have any treatment preferences or if you are uncomfortable with certain treatments i.e. needles. We can always find a suitable alternative to suit you.

In addition to “hands-on” treatment your therapist may also provide:

  • Postural advice

  • Ergonomic advice (particularly if you are a desk worker)

  • Education about your condition

  • Individualised Home Exercise Program to help you achieve the required strength and flexibility to help prevent future headache episodes

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