What Causes Pain In The Back Of The Head
There are a number of different causes that can lead to headaches occurring in the back of your head. In many cases, these headaches also cause pain in other locations, or theyre triggered by certain events.
The types of pain, location, and other symptoms youre feeling can help a healthcare professional diagnose whats causing your headache and how to treat it.
Key Points About Headaches In Children
A headache is pain or discomfort in one or more areas of the head or face. Headaches can happen once in a while. Or they may happen often.
Primary headaches are not linked to another health condition. They are usually caused by tight muscles, widened blood vessels, changes in nerve signals, or swelling in parts of the brain.
Secondary headaches are the least common type of headaches. They are caused by a problem in the brain, or another health condition or disease.
In addition to head pain, your child may have nausea or vomiting.
Your child may have an MRI or a CT scan to help diagnose what may be causing a headache.
Treatment may include resting, taking medicines, managing stress, getting more sleep, and not having certain foods or drinks.
What Causes Headaches In A Child
Researchers dont fully understand the exact cause of headaches. Many headaches may be caused by tight muscles and widened blood vessels in the head. Stress and mental or emotional conflict can trigger tension headaches. Migraine headaches may be caused by changes in brain chemicals or nerve signals.
Other headaches may be caused by a change in pain signals from nerves in the head, face, and neck. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are often the cause of chronic headaches. In rarer cases, headaches may be caused by a problem in the brain such as a tumor.
Also Check: Do Blue Light Glasses Help With Headaches
What Triggers Headaches And Migraines
Common triggers of tension headaches or migraines include:
- Stomach upset or abdominal pain.
Cluster headaches are the most severe type of primary headache. Cluster headaches come in a group or cluster, usually in the spring or fall. They occur one to eight times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. The headaches may disappear completely for months or years, only to recur later. The pain of a cluster headache is:
- Intense with a burning or stabbing sensation.
- Located behind one of your eyes or in the eye region, without changing sides.
- Throbbing or constant.
New daily persistent headaches
New daily persistent headaches come on suddenly and last for more than three months. They typically occur in people who werent having frequent headaches before. The pain of NDPH is:
- Constant and persistent without easing up.
- Located on both sides of the head.
- Not responsive to medications.
Sinus headaches are the result of a sinus infection, which causes congestion and inflammation in the sinuses . People, and even healthcare providers, often mistake migraines for sinus headaches. Symptoms of sinus headaches include:
- Bad taste in mouth.
- Pain that gets worse with sudden head movement or straining.
- Mucus discharge .
Medication overuse headaches
- Headaches becoming more frequent.
- More days with headaches than without.
- Pain thats worse in the morning.
Headaches in children
Can Headaches Or Migraines Be Cured
Treating health problems that cause headaches, such as high blood pressure, can eliminate head pain. Recently, there have been several new advancements in our understanding of what causes headaches. Although we are closer than ever before to a cure, at this time there is no cure for primary headaches. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing future episodes.
Read Also: Headache At Base Of Skull And Neck
What If Treatment Doesnt Work
There are many different ways to address headaches. When you start a treatment program, keep track of your results. A headache log can help you measure progress.
- Are my headaches less frequent?
- Are they less severe?
- Do they go away faster?
If you dont notice an improvement, talk to your doctor at the next follow-up exam. You may need to try something new.
What Are Treatments For Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are painful, and patients may be upset that the diagnosis is “only” a tension headache. Even though it is not life threatening, a tension headache can make daily activities more difficult to accomplish. Most people successfully treat themselves with over-the-counter pain medications to control tension headaches. The following work well for most people:
If these fail, other supportive treatments are available. Recurrent headaches should be a signal to seek medical help. Physical therapy, massage, biofeedback, and stress management can all be used as adjuncts to help control tension headaches.
It is important to remember that OTC medications, while safe, are medications and may have side effects and potential interactions with prescription medications. It always is wise to ask a health care professional or pharmacist if one has questions about OTC medications and their use. This is especially important with OTC pain medications, because they are used so frequently.
It is important to read the listing of ingredients in OTC pain medications. Often an OTC medication is a combination of ingredients, and the second or third listed ingredient may have the potential of interfering with the action of other drugs based upon a patient’s other medical issues. For example:
Other examples where caution should be used include the following:
Also Check: Complete List Of Migraine Symptoms
Meningitis And Brain Infections
Meningitis is infection of the tissues around and on the surface of the brain and encephalitis is infection of the brain itself. Brain infections can be caused by germs called bacteria, viruses or fungi and they are thankfully rare. They cause a severe, disabling headache. Usually patients are sick and cannot bear bright light . Often they have a stiff neck, too stiff for the doctor to be able to bend the head down so that the chin touches the chest . Patients are usually also unwell – hot, sweaty and ill.
Lifestyle Factors That Cause Headache Pain In The Left Temple
The main reasons for pain in the left temple and eye pain are connected with lifestyle factors. Lets look briefly at some of the causes of left side headache pain.
- Stress. Prolonged stress can result in dull pains in your left temple that may spread across your forehead or to the back of your neck. Stress can also cause tension in your shoulders and neck. Doctors say that stress is the most common reason for tension headaches.10
- Lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can be a reason for forehead headaches that creates a pressing feeling on the top and sides of your head. The journal Cephalalgia says that not getting enough sleep can cause dull head pains that are easily resolved by taking analgesics or getting more sleep.11
- Hunger. A study published in the journal BMJ found that a lack of food can be a trigger for many types of headaches including migraines. In some cases, hunger accounted for at least 30% of all reported headaches.12
- Alcohol. Many scientific studies point to the fact that overindulgence in alcohol can result in severe headaches such as temporal headaches. Even small quantities of alcohol can also be a trigger for migraines and increase the intensity of cluster headaches.13
Read Also: Can 5g Wifi Cause Headaches
Other Causes Of Headaches In Your Left Temple
In rare cases, persistent chronic headaches that cause throbbing headaches can be an indicator of a more serious condition.
Stroke. Strokes cause weakness on one side of your body along with vision problems and speech problems. On rare occasions, a stroke can cause a severe migraine that may affect just one side of your head.21 Please read my article on the early signs of a stroke for more information.
Brain tumor. Doctors say that most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. However, if you have constant headaches that dont respond to rest or painkillers, you should speak to your doctor. Other symptoms of a brain tumor include seizures, balance problems, headaches with blurry vision, personality changes, or changes in speech or hearing.22
Nummular headaches. A headache that causes continual pain in a small area of your head could be a nummular headache, or a coin-shaped headache. The pain can be intense and last for around 2 hours. However, there are usually no associated symptoms with nummular headaches. These types of headaches are rarely serious.23
When Should I Be Worried About A Headache
Most headaches don’t have a serious underlying cause. However, healthcare professionals are trained to ask you about the signs and symptoms that might suggest your headache needs further investigation, just to make sure it’s nothing serious.
The things which would suggest to your doctor and nurse that your headache might need further investigation include the following. They do not mean that your headache is serious or sinister, but they mean that the doctor or nurse might wish to do some further checks to be sure:
- You have had a significant head injury in the previous three months.
- Your headaches are worsening and accompanied by high temperature .
- Your headaches start extremely suddenly.
- You have developed problems with speech and balance as well as headache.
- You have developed problems with your memory or changes in your behaviour or personality as well as headache.
- You are confused or muddled with your headache.
- Your headache started when you coughed, sneezed or strained.
- Your headache is worse when you sit or stand.
- Your headache is associated with red or painful eyes.
- Your headaches are not like anything you have ever experienced before.
- You have unexplained vomiting with the headache.
- You have low immunity – for example, if you have HIV, or are on oral steroid medication or immune suppressing drugs.
- You have or have had a type of cancer that can spread through the body.
Also Check: Best Way To Prevent Viagra Headache
Sharp Pain On Just Left Side Of Head
Most headaches affecting just one side of your head are connected to arteries or nerves located on either side of your head.
According to expert in facial cosmetic surgery Dr. Bhupendra Patel, your temporal artery and facial nerves are located on the left side and right side of your head. Irritation or inflammation along the nerve can cause one-sided head pain.1
Also, the mastoid bone behind your ear can become inflamed and sore, and this usually causes pulsating headache pain behind just one ear.
Another reason why throbbing headache pain can affect just the left side of your head is if your left sinuses are blocked.
How Can I Feel Better
Most headaches will go away if a person rests or sleeps. When you get a headache, lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room and close your eyes. It may help to put a cool, moist cloth across your forehead or eyes. Relax. Breathe easily and deeply.
If a headache doesn’t go away or it’s really bad, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can buy these in drugstores under various brand names, and your drugstore may carry its own generic brand. It’s a good idea to avoid taking aspirin for a headache because it may cause a rare but dangerous disease called Reye syndrome.
If you are taking over-the-counter pain medicines more than twice a week for headaches, or if you find these medicines are not working for you, talk to your doctor.
Most headaches are not a sign that something more is wrong. But if your headaches are intense and happen often, there are lots of things a doctor can do, from recommending changes in your diet to prescribing medicine. You don’t have to put up with the pain!
Also Check: Va Rating For Tbi With Migraines
When Should I Seek Medical Care For A Headache
Seek medical care if the headache is:
- The “worst headache of your life.” This is the wording often used in textbooks as a cue for medical practitioners to consider the diagnosis of a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. The amount of pain will often be taken in context with the appearance of the patient and other associated signs and symptoms. Too often, patients are prompted to use this expression by a health care professional and do not routinely volunteer the phrase.
- Different than your usual headaches
- Starts suddenly or is aggravated by exertion, coughing, bending over, or sexual activity
- Associated with persistent nausea and vomiting
- Associated with fever or stiff neck. A stiff neck may be due to meningitis or blood from a ruptured aneurysm. However, most patients who complain of a stiff neck have muscle spasm and inflammation as the cause.
How Do Medical Professionals Diagnose Cluster Headaches
The diagnosis of cluster headache is made by taking the patient’s history. The description of the pain and its clock-like recurrence is usually enough to make the diagnosis.
If examined in the midst of an attack, the patient usually is in a painful crisis and may have the eye and nose watering as described previously. If the patient is seen when the pain is not present, the physical examination is normal and the diagnosis will depend upon the history.
Read Also: How Does Excedrin Migraine Work
How To Get Rid Of A Headache In Your Temple
There are many effective ways to help get rid of a left-sided temple headache quickly. Here are some quick suggestions for what to do if the left side of your head hurts.
- A warm or cool compress pressed against your left temple can help to soothe pain in your head. This helps to relieve irritation and inflammation and can make your headache go away quicker.
- Take a relaxing bath to help ease tension from your shoulders, upper neck, or sinuses. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath can help alleviate temple pain and anxiety.
- Taking a nap can help to relax your brain and get rid of a headache quickly. This is especially useful if lack of sleep has caused your tension headache.
- Eat something to help boost your blood sugar levels and give your brain more energy to function better.
- Use pain relievers.
Medication And Painkiller Headaches
Some headaches are a side effect of taking a particular medication. Frequent headaches can also be caused by taking too many painkillers. This is known as a painkiller or medication-overuse headache.
A medication-overuse headache will usually get better within a few weeks once you stop taking the painkillers that are causing it. But, pain may get worse for a few days before it starts to improve.
Recommended Reading: Headaches In Pregnancy 16 Weeks
When To See A Doctor
Most headaches will go away on their own with medication or simple strategies like rest or addressing the underlying trigger.
That said, to ensure nothing more concerning is occurring, it’s important to promptly see a healthcare provider in the following circumstances:
- Your headaches are occurring more frequently or are interfering with your daily routine.
- You have a headache and a history of cancer or human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS.
- You are age 65 and over and are experiencing a new type of headache.
- Your headache is set off by sneezing, coughing, or exercising.
- You are experiencing rebound headaches from taking painkillers regularly .
- You are pregnant or have just given birth and are experiencing a new headache or a change in your headaches.
The Most Common Brain Tumor Symptoms
- Persistent room spinning, dizziness, or loss of balance.
- A seizure or loss of ability to speak
- Hearing problems
- Gradually worsening weakness or loss of sensation in an arm or leg
- Personality changes such as emotional withdrawal or anger, or becoming easily confused
Consult your doctor if you have any overall concerns about your health.
You May Like: How To Relieve Stress Headaches
When To See Your Physician
If the headache goes on for a couple of weeks without improvement, or is associated with another neurological symptom, such as weakness on one side of the body, it is recommended to discuss your symptoms with a physician.
Headaches that are new or worsening, especially in a person who doesnt normally have headaches, may warrant a medical follow-up, as do headaches that are worse in the morning or when the person is laying down. These headaches could also potentially wake someone from their sleep, or be accompanied by nausea or vomiting.
Causes Of Sharp Pain In Left Side Of Head
1. Occipital Neuralgia
This type of head pain occurs due to irritation or pinching of nerves at the base of the skull. It can be caused by injury, disk herniation or brain tumors. These types of headaches are described as throbbing, stabbing, shock-like or jabbing pain on one side of the head. Some people also note scalp tenderness and sensitivity to light. This headache can be severe in character but is not life threatening.
Treatment options include applying warm moist heat to the neck, resting in a quiet environment, neck and muscle massage and a trial of OTC medications such as ibuprofen, Tylenol or Aleve. A medical doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications. Other options include nerve blocks and steroid injections. Rarely is surgery needed.
Migraine headaches are among the most common causes of severe headaches and can be debilitating. These headaches may occur on the left side of the head and are described as pounding and throbbing. Additional symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, visual flashes and light sensitivity. These headaches last from 4 to 72 hours or more. Many suffer recurrent migraine headaches and require preventative medications and regular physician visits to minimize the impact on quality of life.
3. Brain Tumor
5. Giant Cell Arteritis
6. Tension Headache/Stress Headache
7. Cluster Headache
8. Other Left Side Headache Causes
Also Check: Headache On Right Side Of Head Only