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Lancet Neurol. 2006 Mar;5(3):268-74.

Tension-type headache in childhood and adolescence.

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Child and Adolescent Health Care Unit, Turku City Hospital, Linnankatu 28, 20100 Turku, Finland.


The prevalence of non-migrainous headache is 10-25% in childhood and adolescence. Although tension-type headache and migraine are the two most common types of headache in children and adolescents, most articles address migraine headache. The distinction of tension-type headache from migraine can be difficult; use of The International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria helps. However, these criteria might be too restrictive to differentiate tension-type headache from migraine without aura in children. The pathophysiology of tension-type headache is largely unknown. The smaller genetic effect on tension-type headache than on migraine suggests that the two disorders are distinct. However, many believe that tension-type headache and migraine represent the same pathophysiological spectrum. Some indications of effective treatment exist. For children with frequent headache, the antidepressant amitriptyline might be beneficial for prophylaxis, although no placebo-controlled studies have been done. Restricted studies have suggested the efficacy of psychological and cognitive behavioural approaches in the treatment of childhood tension-type headache.

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