It is estimated that 75% to 90% of all persons who complain of chronic or frequent headaches suffer from tension headaches. They are the most common type of primary headache, and while they share some characteristics with the more serious migraine, they also display certain distinct differences that set them apart.
Some experts believe that tension headaches and migraines represent two ends of a common spectrum, and that migraines, which are severe but irregular in occurrence, sometimes progress or transform to the less severe, but more frequent, tension-variety headache.
When a patient is examined by the physician, there are often findings of muscular tenderness. This is often present in the areas of the neck, at the base of the skull, shoulders, upper arms, and the jaw and face. Some people may show signs of clenching the teeth. The scalp and forhead may also be painful when palpated. The neurological examination is usually normal.