By pressure headache I mean a headache which feels like there is too much pressure inside your head.
It is a tightness in the head, or a squeezing feeling around or on the side of the head.
Almost everyone with this feeling in the head will not have a serious cause.
Serious causes of a pressure feeling in the head are quite rare. The quality of the
pain is not as important as the onset and progression of the symptom.
1. Tension-type Headache
Tension-type Headache can cause a pressure, tight, squeezing or band-like sensation all over the head, on part of the head, or around the head.
Tension-type headache can be intermittent (episodic tension-type headache) of experienced day-in-day-out (chronic tension-type headache).
In episodic cases it is hard to know if medicines work or whether the headache was going to go away itself anyway.
Most people who take a tension-type headache, reach for paracetamol (acetaminophen in the USA) and never bother their doctor about the headache have episodic tension-type headache.
Tension-type Headache is not usually physically disabling, but unfortunately medication is not usually effective in chronic cases.
2. People with Migraine (between Migraine attacks)
In one survey pressure type pain was reported in 42% of people with migraine. Another survey found pressure symptoms in about 70%.
In migraine the location of pressure will move around, and there will also be times when the pain is more intense and starts to fell like a throbbing pain.
People with migraine will also experience "sensory sensitivity". In sensory sensitivity there is nausea, intolerance of movement, light or smell.
Episodes of pressure type headache may get better if treated like migraine, rather than as tension headache.
3. Cervicogenic Headache
A recent paper has demonstrated that the upper cervical spine can produce pressure type symptoms in the head.
It is possible that many people who a re diagnosed with Tension-type headache may actually have a neck problem.
Neck problems - usually the result of poor posture or injury can be helped by properly directed physiotherapy.
This list is based on a review of scientific headache journals. It may not be completely comprehensive, but is probably one of the longest you will find.
All of these conditions are very rare compared to the 3 Common Causes
That's a fairly complete list, but please remember that most people do not have a serious cause found and are likely to have one of the top 3 causes.
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If there are no references listed, please notify me, as this box should contain a list of information sources, or a link to a 'Systematic Review' of the topic discussed on this page.
A Verdelho. Headache in acute stroke. A prospective study in the first 8 days Cephalalgia 2008;28:346-354 (Free Abstract only)
DD Mitsikosta. Refractory chronic headache associated with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome Cephalalgia 2008;28:139-43 (Free Abstract only)
JN Blau. Sleep deprivation headache Cephalalgia 1990;10:157-60 (Free Abstract only)
CJ Schankin. Characteristics of brain tumour-associated headache Cephalalgia 2007;27:904-11. (Free Abstract only)