Tension-type headache – management

Woman with a headache

How to manage tension-type headache

Each patient needs to be assessed to determine what it is they have, ruling out signs and symptoms that may indicate other more serious causes of the headache, treating the acute pain and counselling patients on how to avoid triggers.1

Treatment of the acute pain however, can include both non-pharmacological and pharmacological methods.

Management of tension-type headache

Woman with headache

Non-pharmacological management for headaches 1,2

Some of these methods could help patients suffering from headaches find relief. Depending on the pain intensity, these might work alone or support better relief together with medications.

Consider recommending a headache diary to your patient

This will help them track triggers and also the types of medicines they are on and, how effective they are

Advice rest in a dark and quiet room
Sleeping can help, if possible
Apply a cold compress to the head
Learning stress management skills
Adjusting lifestyle such as reducing caffeine intake, ensuring regular exercise and avoiding irregular or inadequate sleep
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Pharmacological management for headaches 1-3

For treating acute attacks:

Mild-TTH may not require treatment
Moderate-to-severe TTH can be treated with appropriate doses of analgesics such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium

Preventive treatment for TTH is usually non-pharmacological

However, if the patient suffers from severe or chronic TTH, drugs such as amitriptyline or mirtazapine may be considered

Remember to determine if your patients are able to take these medications prior to recommending them. Consider if they have comorbidities such as chronic kidney disease, liver disease, peptic ulcer disease and cardiovascular disease and, if they are on any medications that may interact with treatment for the headache.

Understanding headaches

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Headaches overview

Find out more about how headaches impact people’s life.


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Learn about the causes and triggers

Discover the causes and triggers for the more common types of primary headache disorders – tension type headache


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How do they present?

Find out the signs and symptoms of tension-type headache. Learn to differentiate them and learn about “red flag” symptoms that indicate a referral to a doctor.

Signs and symptoms

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Learning Lab

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Panadol Extra

Is recommended for use as an analgesic in the relief of mild to moderate pain such as is associated with rheumatism (i.e. joint pain), neuralgia, musculoskeletal disorders, headache, backache and symptoms of colds, influenza, sore throat, feverishness, feverish colds, toothache and dysmenorrhoea.4

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Patient care resources

Patient care resources

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