Do you often have headaches, especially pain in the back of your head? If yes, have you ever wondered “Why Does the Back of My Head Hurt?”. If yes, read this article to find out why you have neck pain that spreads to your head and how to fix it and treat it.
You might find some relief if you are experiencing pain in the back of your head. You must identify the cause of your problem to get a lasting solution. You could have poor posture or a specific type of headache. The back of your head may hurt from one of these causes:
- 1 Why Does the Back of My Head Hurt?
- 2 What causes pain in the back of the head?
- 2.1 Pain in the neck or back of the head
- 2.2 Pain in the right side and the back of the head
- 2.3 Pain in the left side and back of the head
- 2.4 Pain in the back of the head when lying down
- 3 How is a pain in the back of the head treated?
- 4 Tips to Getting Rid of Pain in Back of Head
- 5 FAQs
Why Does the Back of My Head Hurt?
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. This can cause severe, moderate, or even permanent pain in the eyes, neck, and behind the eyes. Tension headaches can feel like a tight band around the forehead. Tension headaches are most common in people who have frequent headaches.
This happens when your neck and scalp muscles tighten. It causes pain in the back and sides of your head. It’s usually a dull, non-throbbing pain. Tension headaches are not a sign that you have another medical condition. It can still be very painful. It can feel like someone is pinching their head. Two types of tension headaches exist:
- Episodic: This is often called a stress headache. It occurs when you are stressed, anxious or hungry, angry, depressed, or tired.
- Chronic headaches: These headaches are more frequent than 15 times per month and last at least three months. Although the pain is usually constant, it can vary in intensity over the course of a single day. You might feel a bit queasy if you have one.
Most tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your doctor may recommend an antidepressant that can also be used as a painkiller in some cases.
Slouching when you stand or sit can cause strain to the muscles of the neck, jaw, neck, back, and upper back. This can also put pressure on nerves. Poor posture can lead to tension headaches and pain at the back of your skull. Poor posture can cause headaches. Standing straight or sitting straight can help. You may also find relief with over-the-counter pain medications. Physical therapy may be necessary in some cases.
Poor posture can be bad for your health. Slouching, or slumping can cause misalignment of your musculoskeletal system. Your spine becomes more fragile and more prone to injury as a result. Inflict neck, shoulder, and back pain.
An arthritis headache is characterized by severe pain in the back of the head that becomes worse when you move. This could be caused by arthritis in your first, second, and third vertebrae. You may also experience changes in the bone structure or inflammation of the blood vessels in your head. Talk to your doctor for more information.
These headaches can usually be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxers. Low-pressure headache: Spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH), is also known as low-pressure headache. This is caused by a spinal fluid leak in the back or neck. Leakage causes your brain’s cushion of spinal fluid to shrink. SIH is characterized by severe pain in your neck and back that becomes worse when you sit or stand.
What causes arthritis to cause headaches? Arthritis is the result of joint degeneration and can cause pain. Headache pain may be caused by arthritis damage to your spine at the top, first, or second vertebrae.
Low-pressure headaches often improve when you lie down for at least half an hour. SIH can cause mild headaches that last throughout the day. If you suspect you may have SIH, you should consult your doctor. The doctor will likely use a variety of imaging studies and tests to diagnose SIH.SIH patients often find that traditional headache treatments don’t work.
They rely on combination water and caffeine as well as lying down. A common outpatient treatment called the epidural blood patch works well. Your doctor will draw blood from your arm and inject it into your lower spine. Although the headache disappears quickly, you might feel lower back pain for up to a week or more in rare cases.
Low-pressure headaches are caused by cerebrospinal fluid being removed during a spinal tap or leaking out due to a cyst or tear within one of the tissues that cover the spine cord (meninges). This fluid flows around and cushions your brain, reducing pressure.
Rare headaches can be caused by pain in the occipital nervous system. These nerves run from your spine to your scalp. These nerves can become inflamed or injured, and you might feel pain behind your ears or at the back of your head.
The pain is described as severe and stabbing, similar to a shock. The pain can last from a few seconds up to a few moments. Afterward, you may feel a dull ache. Occipital neuralgia is not a common condition. It may occur when you are doing normal activities like brushing your hair or moving your head on the pillow. It may be a side effect of a whiplash injury, tumor, or other condition.
Warm compresses and gentle massage are the most common treatments. It is possible to also use anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxers. These headaches can be severe so your doctor may recommend antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs.
Occipital neuralgia pain can be very severe. You may also experience the following symptoms:
- Constant throbbing, burning pain
- Shooting or intermittent shocks
- Pain is usually on one side of your head. You can trigger it by moving your neck
- Tenderness of the scalp
- Sensitivity to light
Occipital neuralgia can sometimes be diagnosed by a doctor injecting local anesthetic near the occipital nervous system, providing temporary nerve blocking. Occipital neuralgia is diagnosed when the pain subsides.
Occipital neuralgia may be a sign of other conditions, so the doctor might also look for other underlying conditions.
There are many possible causes.
- Damage to the spine and discs
- Diabetes can cause nerve damage
- Inflammation of blood vessels
Pain relief can be achieved by using heat packs, massage, rest, and anti-inflammatory medication like naproxen or aspirin. There are many heat packs available online.
Occipital neuralgia sufferers may have to use oral muscle relaxants and nerve-blocking medication if their pain is severe. A doctor may recommend local anesthetics or steroid injections for severe pain.
Although it may feel like you are having a headache, the problem is actually in your neck. Referred pain is when the pain you feel in one area of your body is actually coming from another. These are not common and can be a sign that you have another medical condition.
Cervicogenic headache (CGH), is when pain is sent from the neck up to your head. The pain can be either a dull, steady feeling or a dull feeling. Sometimes the intensity of the pain can increase. CGH symptoms are often side-locked. This means that they can occur on either the head or neck.
CGH refers to secondary headaches that are caused by a neurologic or physical condition. CGH can be caused by trauma (e.g. whiplash injury, fracture, dislocation, or whiplash injury) or an underlying medical condition like rheumatoid, cancer, and infection. CGH is often located in the cervical spine. However, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose CGH because the pain is not always felt in your neck. CGH symptoms may also mimic primary headaches such as migraine or tension headaches.
CGH is a condition that causes intermittent pain but can progress to the constant pain. CGH has the following common characteristics:
- Pain radiating from the back of your neck, radiating down the forehead, around the eye, temple, and ear.
- On the same side, pain along the arm and shoulder
- The neck has a reduced flexibility
- In some cases, eye swelling and blurred vision can occur on the affected side.
- The pain is almost always on the same side as the head and neck, although in rare cases, both can be affected.
CGH pain can be triggered by unusual movements or postures in the neck. This includes pressing the back of your neck or sudden movements due to coughing or sneezing. CGH’s long-term outlook depends on the root cause of the headache. CGH can be chronic and last for many months or even years. Once diagnosed, the condition can be managed with treatment.
What causes pain in the back of the head?
Headache can occur in the back of your head for many reasons. These headaches can also be caused by pain in other areas or triggered by certain events. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your headache by looking at your symptoms, where they are located, and any other symptoms.
Pain in the neck or back of the head
Arthritis headaches can be caused by swelling and inflammation in the neck. They can cause pain in the neck and back. More intense pain is often triggered by movement. Any type of arthritis can cause headaches. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.
Bad posture can cause pain in your neck and back. Poor body positioning can cause tension in the neck, shoulders, back, and neck. This tension can cause headaches. A dull, throbbing sensation may be felt at the base of your skull.
Neck pain and tension can be caused by herniated cervical discs (neck). This can lead to a headache known as a “severe” headache. Cervicogenic headache. The pain is usually felt at the back of your head. You may feel it behind your eyes or in the temples. You may also feel discomfort in your shoulders and upper arms. Cervicogenic headaches can become more severe if you lie down. Some people may wake up from the pain, which can disrupt their sleep. You may feel pressure on your head when you lie down.
Occipital neuropathy is a condition where the nerves running from the spinal cord to your scalp become damaged. This condition is often mistaken for migraines. Occipital neuralgia is characterized by sharp, aching, throbbing pains that start at the base of your head and move towards the scalp. Other symptoms include:
- Pain behind the eyes
- A sharp stabbing sensation in the neck and back that feels like an electric shock
- Sensitivity to light
- Tender scalp
- Pain when you move your neck
Pain in the right side and the back of the head
Tension headaches are the most common type of pain. These headaches are located in the right and back of the head. These headaches may cause tightness in the neck or scalp. These sensations can feel dull and constricting, but not throbbing.
Pain in the left side and back of the head
Although migraines can occur in any area, most people feel them on either the left or back of their heads. Migraines can lead to:
- A severe, throbbing, pulsating, intense pain
- Watering your eyes
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Migraine headaches can start on the left side, then move to the temple and back.
Pain in the back of the head when lying down
Cluster headaches can be extremely severe, but they are very rare. Cluster headaches are named after the “cluster periods” during which they occur. Cluster headache sufferers experience frequent attacks. These attacks can last for weeks or even months. Cluster headaches can cause pain in the side or back of your head. These symptoms may worsen if you lie down. You should also be aware of the following symptoms:
- Sharp, penetrating, burning pain
- Excessive tearing
- Stuffy nose
- Drooping eyelids
- Sensitivity to sound and light
How is a pain in the back of the head treated?
Over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol can reduce the symptoms of headaches. If you suffer from chronic headaches, Extra-Strength Tylenol can be helpful. The best treatment is based on the cause of your headache.
Treatment for arthritis headaches
Anti-inflammatories are the best treatment for headaches due to arthritis. Heat is also helpful in reducing inflammation.
Poor posture can cause headaches
Acetaminophen can immediately be used to treat headaches caused by bad posture. These headaches can be treated or prevented by changing your posture. Buy an ergonomic work chair that provides good lumbar support and place both your feet on the ground.
Treatment of headaches due to herniated discs
The treatment of the underlying condition is key to relieving the pain caused by herniated discs. Physical therapy, gentle stretching, and chiropractic manipulation are all options for treating herniated discs. If necessary, surgery may be required. Exercise can help maintain good results.
Treating occipital neuralgia
Occipital nerve pain can be treated with combined heat therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), massage, warm/heat therapy, and prescription muscle relaxers. For immediate relief, your doctor might inject an anesthetic local to the occipital region in severe cases. This option may last for up to 12 weeks.
Treating tension headaches
Tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. For severe or chronic tension headaches, your doctor may recommend prescription medication. Preventative medication such as antidepressants and muscle relaxants may be prescribed by your doctor to prevent future headaches.
Your doctor might prescribe both a preventative medication like a beta-blocker or an immediate pain-relief medication for migraines. Excedrin Migraine and other over-the-counter medications are specifically designed for migraines. These medications may be effective for mild to moderate migraines but not for severe cases. You may be able to avoid migraines by asking your doctor.
Cluster headaches can be treated
Cluster headache treatment focuses on reducing headache duration, decreasing the severity of attacks, and preventing future attacks. The following are some examples of acute treatment:
- Triptans can also be used to treat migraines. They can be injected quickly for quick relief
- Octreotide is an injectable artificial brain hormone that can be used to replace somatostatin.
- Local anesthesia
Some preventative measures may include:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Nerve blockers
Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Your doctor will need to rule other types of headaches out before diagnosing Cervicogenic headaches. To treat the problem, your doctor will use nerve blocks to numb nerves in the neck. This will stop the headache. You can also try medication or physical therapy.
Tips to Getting Rid of Pain in Back of Head
There are many simple things that you can do to reduce the pain without having to visit the doctor. These tips can help you feel great fast.
Make a Cold Pack
Use a cold pack to cool your forehead if you are suffering from migraines. Cold packs, wrapped in a towel, or frozen vegetables, can be used to relieve the pain. Keep the compress on your neck for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a 15-minute break.
Use a Heating Pad, Hot Compressor
Place a heating pad on the back or neck of your head for tension headaches. Apply a warm cloth to any area you feel itching. A warm shower could also be beneficial.
Relieve Pressure from Your Head or Scalp
Excessive tightening of your ponytail can lead to headaches. External compression headaches can also occur if you wear a hat or headband that is too tight, or if you are wearing swimming goggles.
Dim the lights
Migraine-type headaches can be caused when there is too much light or too little. For those who are more susceptible to them, you can cover your windows during the day with blackout curtains. Outdoor sunglasses are a good idea. You might also consider adding anti-glare screens on your computer or using daylight-spectrum bulbs in your light fittings.
You should not chew
Chewing gum is bad for your head, jaw, and teeth. It’s the same for chewing on your lips and fingernails. Avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods. Take small bites. If you grind your teeth every night, consult your dentist about a guard for your mouth. This could reduce headaches that occur in the morning.
Take plenty of fluids. Dehydration could cause a headache, or worsen one.
Get Some Caffeine
Get some coffee, tea, or other beverages with a bit of caffeine. It may help to ease headache pain if taken early enough. It can also aid in the effectiveness of over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Acetaminophen. It is important to not drink too much caffeine as it can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Relaxation is possible
It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing stretches, yoga, meditation, or progressive muscles relaxation, this can help to ease the pain. If you experience neck muscle spasms, you might consider physical therapy.
Try a massage
It’s possible to do it by yourself. Relaxing your temples, forehead, and neck for a few seconds can help reduce tension headaches. You can also gently apply rotating pressure to the problem area.
Ginger, Take Some
A small, recent study has found that people suffering from migraines felt less pain when they took ginger along with their regular over-the-counter pain meds. One other study showed that ginger works almost as well with prescription migraine meds. It is possible to take a vitamin or make a cup of tea.
Moderation when taking medication
The shelves of pharmacies have pain relievers that can be used for any type of headache. Follow the instructions on the labels and these guidelines to ensure you get the best possible results.
- Choose liquid over pills. It will be absorbed faster by your body.
- If you have heart or kidney disease, don’t take ibuprofen (or any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
- Never give aspirin to any child under the age of 18.
- When you feel pain, immediately take painkillers. It’s more likely to be overcome if you start taking it sooner than waiting.
- Ask your doctor about what you can do if you feel sick and nauseated after a headache.
- Ask your doctor what you should do to avoid a recurring headache.
Talk to your doctor about any headache symptoms that you should not treat at the home.
How a Neck Problem Can Cause Cervicogenic Headache?
The trigeminocervical nucleus, located in the upper cervical spine area, is an area where sensory nerve fibers originate from both the trigeminal and upper spinal nerves. Trigeminal nerves are responsible for sensations of pain in the face, including the forehead, temple, top, and eye. The upper spinal nerves sense pain sensations from CGH and transmit it to the trigeminal neuro fibers of the trigeminocervical nocleus. This causes pain to be felt in different parts of the head.
There are many factors that can cause pain to radiate from the neck to your head.
- A fracture to the atlantooccipital joint (the joint that connects the base of your skull and the first cervical vertebra).
- Injuries to cervical spine components, such as the vertebrae, facet joints, or discs
- Cervical Radiculopathy is caused by pinched nerves in the upper spine region
- Neck injuries
- Tumors of the cervical region
CGH can be caused by a whiplash injury which causes pain very soon after the injury. CGH caused by whiplash can resolve in a few weeks or last for years.
When Is Cervicogenic Headache Serious?
CGH can sometimes be caused by serious underlying conditions like a tumor, hemorrhage, fracture, or arteriovenous Malformation (abnormal connection of arteries and veins in the neck or head region). One or more of these symptoms could also be present in such cases:
- Changes in the severity of headache pain such as severe headaches that are intolerable
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and disorientation
- Headaches that are caused by coughing or the Valsalva maneuver (an attempt at expelling air while keeping your mouth closed and your nostrils tightly squeezed)
- Neck stiffness swelling
- Arms numbness
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to immediately seek medical attention.