Pathophysiology of tension-type headache

Sait Ashina, Lars Bendtsen, Messoud Ashina

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Tension-type headache is one of the most common primary headache disorders. Advances in basic pain and clinical research have improved our understanding of pathophysiologic mechanisms of tension-type headache. Increased excitability of the central nervous system generated by repetitive and sustained pericranial myofascial input may be responsible for the transformation of episodic tension-type headache into the chronic form. Studies of nitric oxide (NO) mechanisms suggest that NO may play a key role in the pathophysiology of tension-type headache and that the antinociceptive effect of nitric oxide synthase inhibitors may become a novel principle in the future treatment of chronic headache. Future studies should focus on investigation of the source of peripheral nociception, the role of descending pain modulation, and the development of an animal model of tension-type headache to support the pathophysiologic importance of central sensitization in tension-type headache.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Pain and Headache Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


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