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Headache in back of head - Location, Causes and Treatment

Updated on September 22, 2013

All of us know what it's like to undergo a headache. They can turn the finest of times into a form of torment. Four out of five people suffer from tension headaches. One in seven suffers from migraines. Headaches cost the budget around £1.5bn a year over lost work days. The concern is, while some sources of headaches are noticeable – such as when you have too many glasses of alcohol the night before – others are trickier to call. And how can you say what's severe and what isn't? A good starting point is to know what kind of headache you suffer from.

Tension headache V/s Migraine V/s Sinus Headache
Tension headache V/s Migraine V/s Sinus Headache

Types of Headaches and their Causes

It's serious to recognize which type of headache you suffer from—tension, cluster, sinus, recoil, or migraine—so that the accurate treatment can be recommended. Further down are given some of the kinds of headaches.

  • Tension Headaches

Tension headaches, the most ordinary type, feel like a continuous ache or weight around the head, particularly at the temples or back of the head and neck [3].

  • Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, which disturb men more frequently than women, are frequent headaches that occur in clusters or series. The headaches appear suddenly and are categorized by severe, devastating pain on one side of the head often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face.

  • Temporal Arteritis

This is more common in people age 50 years or above. In case it is not treated or goes undetected for an enduring period of time, it may lead to permanent blindness [1].

  • Retropharyngeal tendinitis

It is another cause of headache in the back of head. Most of the time, it goes undetected. The patient feels difficulty in elevating his neck [1]. It is often confused with meningitis and is noticed when the condition of patient worsens.

  • Occipital Neuralgia

It is a type of severe headache in the back of head that occurs as a consequence of some injury or irritation in the occipital nerve [1]. The pain of the headache is characterized by a sharp or shooting pain.

  • Sinus headaches

When a sinus becomes swollen, frequently through an infection, it can cause pain. It frequently comes with a fever, and can—if required—be identified by MRI or CT scan or by the existence of pus observed through a fiber-optic scope [2].

  • Ice Pick Headache

It is considered to be one of the most excruciating headaches that occur at back of the head. A person feels like someone has poked in ice pick into their eyes. It is usually mild during the first days and unexpectedly shoots up [1].

  • Migraine

Migraine causes repeated headaches on one side of the head that stays for more than four hours. It is usual to feel sick while sitting in a dark room often helps. A quarter to a third of migraine victims get an "aura" in advance the headache begins [5]. This is not a mystic glow around the body, but uncommon sensations such as pins and needles, seeing bright lights, or feeling distant from people around you.

Location Based Headache Diagnosis And Their Probable Treatment Options

Head pains are life's yellow lights. They don't actually stop you, they just dawdle everything down from your efficiency to your husband's travelling hands. The major problem, though, is that many of us think our only choice is to consent with the pounding pain, try to heal it, and then wait it out. But you have more choices for treating and stopping the most general skull-busters around.

  • Migraine

Locate It

Aching, vivacious pain (think any Duran song) that's only on one side of your skull. Time and again with nausea or light sensitivity.

Diagnose It

If it's limited to a small area on one side, it's perhaps a migraine. That happens when nerves in the brain stem become overexcited (from almost anything — avoiding meals to stress) that points to their dilatation (enlargement) of blood vessels in the brain — producing the pain [2].


The normal length of a migraine headache is about 24 hours. Tryptophans are the medicines of choice that work by lessening the constriction of blood vessels [4].

  • Tension Headaches

Locate It

If there is mild pressing or tightening pain on both sides of your head, then below is the diagnosis of it [3].

Diagnose It

About eighty percent of grown-ups experience tension headaches. And they're the types that can happen anywhere — the brow, temples, the back of the skull, even the upper neck. This pain happens when your muscles contract [3]. That pressure can be instigated by stress or anxiety — the chemical changes in your head in turn cause the muscles to contract; or it can be in reaction to physical changes, like holding your head in the same location at the computer for way too long[4].


Treat with nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs. But try to discover the reason, like changes in sleep forms, caffeine, or other daily life triggers. For example, foods comprising the chemical tyramine (red wine, old cheese, burned fish) have been revealed to cause headaches. Keep a journal that equals your headaches to your performance patterns [2].

  • Menstruation Migraines

Locate It

Aching pain that feels similar to a migraine, but the pain is spread out — now that you sit down and reason about it — every 4 weeks [4].

Diagnose It

All through your menstrual cycle, your estrogen level can drop faster [5]. Scientists believe that hormone variation causes blood vessels to widen, activating menstruation migraines, Dr. Diamond pronounces. In fact up to sixty percent of migraines in women are related to their menses.


A day or two before the beginning of regular menstrual cycle, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen [4]. That will help lessen the tightening of blood vessels and decrease the pain related with menstrual headaches. For more serious cases, visit a doctor for a recommendation for a migraine-targeted tryptophan drug.

  • Sinus Headache

Locate It

If the pain that starts rights above your head your nose and radiates upwards, its diagnosis is.

Diagnose It

Regular headaches frequently come with a side order of nasal stuffing, sneezing, and watering eyes. These are due to nasal allergy. The headache happens when the nasal passageways get irritated — either by food or after airborne allergens like molds, pollen, and plants [5].


Anti-histamine is suggested to stop the headache by treating the reaction to the allergen. But if your case is more severe, visit a specialist, who may recommend a nasal cortisone spray to tackle the allergy [5].

When to Call a Doctor!

Even though migraines and headaches are hardly ever the indications of a serious illness, infrequently they may point out a serious medical disorder such as a tumor or aneurysm (blood vessel rupture). It is significant for you to become acquainted with your personal headache symptoms, and those that require instantaneous medical attention [1].




Submit a Comment
  • emedicalhub profile imageAUTHOR

    Dr Rajesh 

    6 years ago from India

    Cybershelley thanks for your comment - and keep following the hub :) more useful health tips ahead !

  • CyberShelley profile image

    Shelley Watson 

    6 years ago

    Excellent advice, and thank you for sharing. I have found that taking two different types of tablets break the tension headaches and often stop the migraine when taken during the aura time. I take ibuprofen and Betapyn. Voted up, interesting and useful. Shared!


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