Muscle Contraction Tension Headache Medication

Updated: Dec 28, 2015
  • Author: Manish K Singh, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Medication

Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy for tension-type headaches (TTHs) are to relieve the headache, reduce morbidity, and prevent complications.

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Analgesics

Class Summary

These agents can be used for abortive therapy.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Aspirin Free Anacin, Feverall, Tempra)

First choice for treatment of headache, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Class Summary

These agents inhibit inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing activity of cyclooxygenase, which is responsible for prostaglandin synthesis. They generally are used in mild to moderately severe headaches; however, they also may be effective for severe headaches.

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)

First choice for treatment of headache, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Naprelan)

First choice for treatment of headache, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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Antidepressants

Class Summary

These drugs increase the synaptic concentration of serotonin and/or norepinephrine in CNS by inhibiting their reuptake by the presynaptic neuronal membrane.

Cymbalta can also be helpful for patients who have coexisting depression.

Nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl HCl)

Has demonstrated effectiveness in treatment of pain.

Amitriptyline (Elavil)

Has demonstrated effectiveness in treatment of pain.

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Serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Class Summary

These agents specifically inhibit presynaptic reuptake of serotonin. May be considered as an alternative to TCAs.

Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Has potent specific 5-HT uptake inhibition with fewer anticholinergic and cardiovascular adverse effects than TCAs.

Sertraline (Zoloft)

Atypical nontricyclic antidepressant with potent specific 5-HT uptake inhibition and fewer anticholinergic and cardiovascular adverse effects than TCAs.

Paroxetine (Paxil)

Atypical nontricyclic antidepressant with potent specific 5-HT uptake inhibition and fewer anticholinergic and cardiovascular adverse effects than TCAs.

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Electrolyte supplements

Class Summary

Electrolytes such as magnesium may help in the treatment of tension headache.

Magnesium chloride (Slow-Mag, Mag-Delay)

Magnesium metabolism may have a significant role in both the etiology and the treatment of muscle contraction tension headache.

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