What Causes Headaches In The Back Of The Head And Neck
While headaches are a very common ailment that everyone has dealt with, many dont realize how many types of headaches there are. Everything from the location of the pain to what it feels like can vary depending upon the cause of the headache, and this information can be crucial to understanding if there is a severe cause for the condition. Any pain in any region of the face, head, or neck is technically considered a headache- but what exactly causes the kind of pain that is in the neck and the back of the head? Read on to understand this phenomenon and what kind of headache treatment is right for these symptoms.
What Are Primary Headaches
Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types of headaches.
- Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache.
- Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected.
- Cluster headaches are a rare type of primary headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s, though women and children can also suffer from this type of headache.
Primary headaches can affect the quality of life. Some people have occasional headaches that resolve quickly while others are debilitating. While these headaches are not life-threatening, they may be associated with symptoms that can mimic strokes.
Many patients equate severe headache with migraine, but the amount of pain does not determine the diagnosis of migraine. Read our Migraine Headache article for more information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of migraines.
Front Of Your Head And Face
A headache behind your eyes and nasal passages can be due to allergies, such as hay fever, which can also produce symptoms similar to that of the common cold.
However, true sinus headaches tend to be rare. These headaches usually turn out to be migraine, which can cause pain over the sinuses.
A headache behind your eyes is rarely related to eyestrain.
If you think youre having sinus headaches, consider seeing your doctor to get a diagnosis. Your doctor can help determine if your headache is truly caused by allergies, or if it could be migraine.
Pain in the back of your head can be due to arthritis of the neck. Pain tends to get worse when you move.
This type of headache can also be due to poor posture or neck problems such as a herniated disc.
A back of the head headache, often accompanied by neck pain, can also be a sign of a low-pressure headache, otherwise known as spontaneous intracranial hypotension . Its caused by low spinal fluid pressure in the brain.
Another sign of SIH is that the pain eases when you lie down, but worsens when you:
- engage in physical activity
This type of headache can occur following a lumbar puncture. If youve recently had this procedure and develop a headache, see your doctor as soon as possible for treatment.
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How Is Primary Stitching Headache Treated
Treatment of primary stitching headache is mainly symptomatic. Several studies have noted the beneficial effect of indomethacin other studies have not confirmed its effectiveness for this form of headache. Some researchers in some cases noticed the preventive effect of melatonin, nifedipine and some NSAIDs.
What Is The Course Of The Primary Headache Associated With Sexual Activity
Primary headache associated with sexual activity occurs in about 1% of people in the population. However, its true prevalence appears to be much higher, since most patients do not go to doctors with these complaints.This type of headache is characterized by pain that is triggered by sexual activity. In this case, the examination of the patient does not reveal signs of intracranial pathology. The duration of a headache associated with sexual activity can vary from 1 minute to 3 hours. Postural headache may occur, ie. arising from the transition from a horizontal position to a vertical one after intercourse. In this case, the headache resembles pain with low cerebrospinal fluid pressure.
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Other Causes Of Headaches
In addition to these specific headache types, there are some general risk factors and considerations that can help you understand what may be causing your symptoms.
Illness and Injury: Common illnesses like colds, fevers, and viral infections are likely to lead to headaches that can manifest in the back of the head. If you have had a fall or car accident that led to a blow to the head, this can also be an explanation for a headache and should be checked.
Stress: Emotional stress and depression can cause headache pain. These situations can also cause behaviors that lead to headaches, like alcohol use, skipping meals, and changes in sleeping patterns.
Environment: Many headaches are triggered by surrounding sensory input. Secondhand tobacco smoke and strong smells like household chemicals or perfumes are common examples. Certain foods and allergens may also be a trigger for some people. Stress, pollution, noise, lighting, and weather changes are also known to induce headaches in those prone to them, especially migraine headaches.
Genetics: A tendency to suffer from headaches, particularly migraine headaches, can run in families. Most children and teens who have migraines have other family members who experience them.
Treating The Back And Neck For Headache Pain
Not all headaches are related to the neck and spine, but they are often contributing factors. Ensuring that the spine, including the cervical spine, is properly aligned and able to do the important work of supporting the head is one way to avoid headaches. Physical therapy and consistent chiropractic adjustments can help ensure the neck is strong, your posture is optimized, and the body is able to fight off any additional health concerns that may contribute to headaches.
At AICA Orthopedics, our holistic team of experts is dedicated to ensuring you find relief. Physical therapists, chiropractors, neurologists, orthopedists, pain management specialists, and others will work together to identify any contributing factors and develop a personalized plan based on your needs and goals. Contact AICA Orthopedics today to schedule your first appointment and begin finding relief.
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How To Diagnose And Treat Your Headaches
There are many aspects to a headache and location is only a piece of the puzzle. To get the right treatment for your headache, you need the right diagnosis. And that starts with an appointment with your health care provider.
Its always good to speak with your doctor if your headache starts to interfere with your everyday life, if the headaches youve had are suddenly different or if they seem to be progressing in severity or frequency, Dr. Yancy said.
Your health care provider will want to know the quality of the pain, how often your headaches occur, how long they last, the severity, the patterns to time of onset and whether the pain worsens with changes in body position. Its also helpful to determine if the headaches are associated with other symptoms, such as sensitivity to lights and sounds, visual changes, dizziness, weakness and numbness, Dr. Yancy advised.
Head Pain Has Other Causes
Not all head pain is diagnosed as a tension headache or migraine, though, and in those cases, the location can offer important information about other causeslike muscle tension, nerve pain, or jaw issues. “Oftentimes, headaches related to muscle tension can cause pain in certain areas,” notes Dr. Hamilton. Dull pain by your temples, especially when you wake up in the morning, could indicate teeth clenching or TMJ a headache in the back of your head and along your neck may be related to neck tension or a cervical spine issue. Nerve irritation can also cause pain in one spot: “There are different nerves around the head, and if you’re having a specific type of pain over a focal area, that can be indicative of irritation of the local nerve,” she adds. “For example, there are big nerves in the back of the had called occipital nerves, and sometimes those can get irritated and present with sharp shooting pains in the back if the head. If the pains really are limited to that distribution of the nerve, that can be a sign of local irritation.”
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
Most headaches can be managed withover-the-counter pain relievers. But call your healthcare provider right away if youhave a severe headache plus:
- A headache is pain or discomfort in the head or face area.
- Types of headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster.
- Headaches can be primary or secondary.If its secondary, its caused by another condition.
- Staying away from your headachetriggers is the best prevention.
- Mild to moderate headaches can be managed with over-the-counter medicines, but tell yourhealthcare provider if your headache is severe and you have other symptoms.
How Can The Doctor Tell What Type Of Headache I Have
You can help your doctor to diagnose your headache type by keeping a headache diary in the weeks leading up to your appointment. Your diary should record the number of days you have a headache, how severe your headache is and any other symptoms associated with your headache, such as nausea. A headache diary can also help your doctor look for patterns and triggers, which can help with your treatment.
It is important that you let your doctor know how your headache affects your day-to-day life and the impact it has on your partner, children, employer, work colleagues and friends.
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What Type Of Migraine Headache Do You Have
Understanding the Different Types of Migraines and Headaches
When people hear the term migraine, they often think of a severe headache. What they dont always know is that migraine is a neurological disease and that there are a number of different subtypes of migraine. Learn about each different type of migraine, with and without headache, below.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Headache
Headache symptoms depend on the type of headache. The frequency of headaches and theintensity of the symptoms may vary, too. Typical headache symptoms include:
- Slow start of the headache
- Head usually hurts on both sides
- Pain is dull or feels like a band or vice around the head
- Pain may be in the back part of thehead or neck
- Pain is mild to moderate, but not severe
Tension type headaches typicallydont cause nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light .
The symptoms of a headache may looklike other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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If The Pain Is In Your Neck
Neck pain may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to migraines, but they are a common feature of the condition.
“About 75% of people with migraines get neck pain, which is something many people don’t realize,” said Dr. Green.
According to Medline Plus, individuals with migraines may experience four phases during their migraine episode, each with different symptoms. The first phase is called the prodrome and can begin a day before the actual headache. Symptoms may vary, including mood swings, fluid retention, extra urination, food cravings, and uncontrollable yawning.
The aura, part of the headache itself, is the next phase. Not everyone experiences migraines with a visible aura. But if you do, you may see flashing lights or zigzags. Auras can happen right before or during a migraine headache.
Migraine headaches tend to have a gradual onset, building into severe pain that is typically throbbing on one side of the head. You may experience increased sensory sensitivity, such as increased sensitivity to lights and sounds. You may also experience increased pain with movement, nausea, and vomiting. And as Dr. Green said, you may experience neck pain. It is also possible to have these symptoms without classic head pain.
The last phase is the postdrome, which happens after the pain. A period of exhaustion, it typically lasts a day.
How Can I Prevent Headaches
The key to preventing headaches is figuring out what triggers them. Triggers are very specific to each person what gives you a headache may not be a problem for others. Once you determine your triggers, you can avoid or minimize them.
For example, you may find that strong scents set you off. Avoiding perfumes and scented products can make a big difference in how many headaches you have. The same goes for other common triggers like troublesome foods, lack of sleep and poor posture.
Many people, however, are not able to avoid triggers or are unable to identify triggers. In that case, a more personalized multidisciplinary approach with a headache specialist is often necessary.
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Types Of Headaches By Location
One side of your head
Common reason: Migraine
Migraines are the second leading cause of disability and affect about 1.04 billion people worldwide.
Migraines are usually one-sided, although many people can experience them on both sides, and can worsen with movement and activity. Other symptoms may include throbbing or pounding, sensitivity to light and sound, sometimes smells, nausea and vomiting, Dr. Yancy said. Many patients also have periods before and after a migraine where they experience symptoms.
A band around your head or entire head
Common reason: Tension-type headache
Tension headaches are the most common type of headacheand the most common kind of headache during pregnancy. They can range from mild to moderate and can happen either infrequently or, for some people, several times a week.
You may experience pressure or tightness, often like a band is squeezing around your head, and it may extend to your neck and shoulders. Unlike migraines, tension headaches dont tend to cause nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light.
One side of the head and in and around your eye
Common reason: Cluster headache
Cluster headaches are relatively uncommon but are one of the most severe types of headaches. They get their name because they tend to come in clusters, with one to eight headaches a day, and often happen every year or two during the same time of year.
Front of your head and face
Common reason: Sinus headache
Neck and back of the head
Headaches In The Back Of The Head And Neck
Certain types of headaches are more likely to cause pain in the back of the head and the neck than others. For example, a sinus headache will cause pain in the sinuses, which sit at the front of the face- it is unlikely neck pain is a result of a sinus headache. Below are some types of headaches commonly associated with pain in the back of the head and the neck.
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Can I Prevent A Headache
Avoiding triggers will help prevent headaches, and using the right medications as prescribed by your doctor or recommended by your pharmacist is also important. You cant avoid all triggers, so finding the right balance of lifestyle changes and medications is key to long-term headache management.
Some of the more common triggers for headaches include:
- too much or too little sleep
Ask your doctor if taking vitamins or supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin or CoQ10 will help prevent your type of headache, or if you are worried that overuse of pain medicine is triggering your headache.
If you get headaches frequently, your doctor may prescribe preventive medicines for you.
How Are Headaches Treated In A Child
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on what type of headache your child has and how severe it is.
The goal of treatment is to stop the headache from occurring. Treatment may include:
Resting in a quiet, dark environment
Taking medicines recommended by your child’s healthcare provider
Learning how to manage stress
Staying away from foods and drinks that trigger headaches
Getting enough sleep
Making changes to your child’s diet
Migraine headaches may be treated with medicine, such as:
Abortive medicines. These prescription medicines act on specific receptors in blood vessels in the head. They can stop a headache in progress.
Rescue medicines. These are over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen that stop a headache.
Preventive medicines. These prescription medicines are taken daily to reduce severe migraine headaches.
In some cases, a headache may need medical attention right away. Your child may need to stay overnight in the hospital to be watched. He or she may need testing or surgery.
Talk with your childs healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
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Mixed Or Mixed Tension Migraine
This headache type has features of both migraine headache and tension headache.
- Sufferers describe the pain as dull and constant or throbbing and the severity may be mild, moderate, or severe.
- Other symptoms of migraine, including light and sound sensitivity or nausea and vomiting, may be present.
Cluster headaches can be triggered by alcohol or seasonal variation. Sinus headaches are triggered by a sinus infection.
How Does Hypnic Headache Proceed
Hypnic headache refers to a benign primary disease that first occurs in people over 50 years of age.It is called hypnic because the attacks occur during a nights sleep and wake the patient up. Its synonym is the term alarm headache. Clinically, hypnic headache is characterized by bouts of dull headache that occurs more than 15 times a month and continues for 15 minutes or more after the patient wakes up. This pain is not accompanied by vegetative symptoms there may be mild nausea or intolerance to bright light. Hypnic pain is often bilateral, usually mild to moderate intensity severe pain occurs in only 20% of patients.The attacks last for 15 minutes 3 hours, sometimes a little longer. The pain often occurs in the front of the head, sometimes it is felt as diffuse and spreads to the neck. Usually after 12 hours the pain disappears completely on its own. At the first appearance of a hypnic headache, it is necessary to exclude intracranial pathology, as well as to carry out differential diagnostics with TVC.
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