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Work, the kids, the bills, and seemingly endless chores are stressing you out – and now your head is killing you and your shoulders are in knots! Find out why this physical pain happens and what can help.  

Tension type headache (TTH)

TTH is one of the most common types of headaches, along with migraine – and it feels as if you have a pressing, tightening band around your head1,2. Interestingly, both migraine and TTH are often associated with neck pain and newer research suggests that issues around the top of the spine could spread into the muscles of the head (cranial muscles), possibly contributing to headaches1.

Myofascial pain syndrome

This is a type of pain that arises from trigger points in your muscles3. It often occurs from repetitive use in physical work or hobbies and is very common in all parts of the body3,4. You’ll feel a deep, aching pain in your muscle that seems to coming from a specific tender spot – the trigger point4. Remember that it’s not the same as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the normal pain or discomfort you may feel after exercise5.

Treatment for tension-related pain

Treatment includes a combination of pain medication and other treatments, including physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, behavioural therapy, and psychotherapy2. In the case of myofascial pain, it’s also a good idea to consider your body mechanics, posture, what you eat and how you sleep4. Trigger point therapies, like stretching and trigger point injections, can help as well4. If you have any muscular pain that doesn’t go away in a few days, speak to your healthcare provider.

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1. Castien, R. & De Hertogh, W. A neuroscience perspective of physical treatment of headache and neck pain. Front Neurol. 10, 276. (2019).
2. Trkanjec, Z. & Aleksić-Shihabi, A. Glavobolje tenzijskog tipa [Tension-type headaches]. Acta Med Croatica. 62(2), 205-10 (2008).
3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic (2019). Available at:
4. Jaeger B. Myofascial trigger point pain.  Alpha Omega106(1-2), 14–22 (2013).
5. Cheung, K., et al. Delayed onset muscle soreness: treatment strategies and performance factors. JSports Med.33(2), 145–164 (2003).