The back of the head hurts: a description of the symptoms and treatment

Pain in the back of the head is an extremely unpleasant feeling. Which, however, should not be drowned out with the usual analgesics. Especially when the pain occurs systematically. 

In this part of the head, in the back of the head, are the elements of the vasculature of the brain, nerve endings, muscles, ligaments. Therefore, the causes of persistent headaches in the back of the head are extremely varied and serious.

The use of painkillers, self-medication with folk remedies, or just an attempt to endure, can lead to serious pathology. And in some cases – to disability. For example, if the cause lies in a severe infection.

Headache in the back of the head differs depending on the reasons and requires an individual approach to treatment, therefore it is extremely important to seek help from the clinic when various symptoms appear, regular painful sensations in this area.

Types of headaches

In Depending on the pathology which developed different and sensations that appear in the back of the head.  

It is possible to figure out why the back of the head hurts a lot, what this means, when the patient undergoes minimal examinations. Because different types of painful sensations are often combined with other symptoms.

Sometimes manifestations speak of specific problems that have arisen:

  1. Constant cephalalgia that stops only for a short period of time signals the development of cervical osteochondrosis. It is often also a manifestation of circulatory ill health. But even less serious reasons become the reason for feeling unwell: regular severe stress, depression, improper sleep patterns. 
  1. A severe attack of pain syndrome may indicate severe intoxication, gross violations of normal blood circulation. This is how tumors, infectious diseases of the brain and its membranes manifest themselves. Or a hypertensive crisis.
  2. Lumbago and a feeling of crunching when moving the head are a manifestation of problems with the musculoskeletal system. Depending on the focus of pain and specific sensations, it is possible to determine osteochondrosis, spondylosis, myositis, or other abnormalities.
  3. In combination with a feeling of nausea, there may be a sharp increase or decrease in blood pressure, intoxication. Each of the types of deviation has a number of additional symptoms. A painful condition can indicate both the development of a serious illness and physical or psychological fatigue, uncomfortable weather conditions for a person. 

Pulsating twitching, passing from the back of the head to the area of ​​the temples, may indicate the development of serious diseases: hypertensive crisis, a sharp increase in intracranial pressure. If one half of the head is affected , migraines. But also such unpleasant sensations, less pronounced, indicate the excessive use of caffeinated drinks or an inappropriate pillow, an uncomfortable posture during sleep. 

  1. Severe pressing, turning into dull, headache occurs, as a rule, against the background of an increase in blood pressure and requires immediate treatment [3]. If you feel like this, you need to measure the pressure, take a normalizing drug and lie down. 

Causes of pain in the occipital region of the head

Pain in the back of the head is often misunderstood as a neck problem. And, to eliminate pain, massage and medications are used to address problems with this part of the spine. Which is often a dangerous mistake.

Treatment should begin only after diagnosis, because the causes of a strong pressing or dull headache in the back of the head can be diseases of various etiologies.

Hypertonic disease

Blood pressure rises sharply or gradually, causing a complex of unpleasant symptoms.

In parallel with pain in the back of the head, there are:

  1. nausea, in severe cases, turning into vomiting;
  2. tearfulness;
  3. destruction of capillaries in the eyes;
  4. dizziness;
  5. pallor or vice versa – redness of the face, neck.

Many different factors are capable of provoking a crisis of hypertension. From harmless and easily corrected, such as stress, to manifestations of heredity or developed heart pathologies.

When the first symptoms appear, you need to measure your blood pressure, take a special medicine and spend some time at rest. Without the necessary medical care in case of hypertension, a hemorrhagic stroke can develop – a cerebral hemorrhage. 

Increased intracranial pressure

This is a dangerous condition, which can be caused by both ordinary things, like strong coffee, too loud sounds or a stressful condition, as well as serious infectious diseases, head injuries.

Additional signals of a problem are:

  • pain in the eyes, feeling of sand;
  • vomit;
  • dizziness;
  • nose bleed;
  • destruction of capillaries in the eyelids and eyeballs.

The condition is dangerous and requires seeking medical attention.


Painful attacks, concentrated in one particular part of the head, often hurt in the region of the crown or occiput. They can last for several hours, and in difficult cases – a day or more. 

The cause of the disease is a genetic predisposition, traumatic brain injury. In women, cephalalgia is caused by regular fluctuations in hormonal levels and other factors.  

In this case, the immediate onset of an attack and its intensification is provoked by an external influence – a trigger. For a person prone to migraines, the following are dangerous: loud music, flickering of light, excessive passion for coffee, smoking, alcoholic beverages, stressful situations. 

Additional symptoms of the disease are:

  1. severe dizziness.
  2. nausea, periodically turning into vomiting;
  3. throbbing pain concentrated in a specific area of ​​the skull;
  4. weakness, significant decrease in performance;
  5. intolerance to light, eyes burn, increased lacrimation begins, sometimes – from one eye, from the sore side of the head.

Long-term migraine attacks can be extremely hazardous to health [5]. Therefore, in the event of migraine cephalalgias, it is recommended to consult a doctor for the selection of effective drugs. 

Cervical osteochondrosis

Often, the reason that the back of the head, neck hurts, are problems with the spine, which require special treatment.

Problems with the cervical region, the muscles located there, in principle, are often manifested by pain in the back of the head. The most common cause is osteochondrosis or inflammation of the cartilaginous structures of the spine.

Posture disorders and a sedentary lifestyle are considered the main reasons. The disease is manifested by aching, often alternating with severe pain in the occipital part of the head, passing into the neck, sudden attacks occur with unsuccessful movements, head turns. Additional symptoms are deterioration of vision, concentration, attention, periodic dizziness without falling. 

Myogelosis of the neck

Under the influence of external factors, muscle tissue becomes denser and more inactive.

This leads to clamping of nerve endings, blood vessels and subsequent oxygen starvation of the brain.

Unpleasant sensations begin in the neck, gradually spreading to the back of the head.

Typical symptoms, in addition to attacks of pain that occur during movement, are dense formations, which are felt along the cervical spine (spasmodic muscles) and dizziness.

The development of pathology can be provoked by:

  • excessive physical activity;
  • exposure to cold;
  • minor injuries;
  • prolonged stay in an uncomfortable position, in which the cervical muscles “numb”.

Complicating factors are excess weight, low physical activity.


The only correct answer to the question: “What to do if the back of the head and the back of the head hurt?” – this is an appeal to a doctor to find out the exact reason.

Depending on the original problem, the factors that provoked it and the proposed treatment options, you will be referred to a specialized doctor. But initially it is worth contacting a therapist, this will eliminate the influence of external circumstances, such as hypertension.

At the reception of a patient with a complaint of pain in the back of the head, the doctor, before prescribing treatment, conducts a thorough diagnosis:

  • Examination, questioning and collection of anamnesis. It is important to track all the symptoms that appear. Including those that the patient himself does not associate with a painful condition. In parallel, the presence of chronic diseases and a possible hereditary factor is being clarified. 
  • An ECG is performed, the features of the heart and the state of the circulatory system are determined.
  • After excluding the possibility of temporary exposure to external circumstances, instrumental examinations are prescribed: X-ray examination, MRI, CT. Based on the results, the state of the brain tissues and blood vessels will become clear. If there are pinched nerves or degenerative processes in the muscles, spine, they will be found.
  • Additionally, blood tests are performed to exclude infection or other related problems.

Based on the results of the research, the doctor determines what caused a sharp severe headache in the back of the head. If necessary, prescribes a referral to a doctor of the appropriate specialization.


After the reasons for the pain in the back of the head are determined, the attending physician will understand what to do to relieve the condition. And he will make a plan for restorative therapy.

Treatment is prescribed strictly individually, depending on the root cause of the onset of symptoms.

Pain that occurs in the occipital region is treated with medication or physiotherapy.

As a rule, drugs of such groups are prescribed:

  • medicines that lower or increase blood pressure;
  • means for strengthening blood vessels and improving blood circulation;
  • pain relievers (analgesics);
  • chondroprotectors that normalize the condition of the cartilage of the spine;
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

In some cases, when regular unpleasant sensations are provoked by constant stress and nervous exhaustion, the attending physician resorts to therapy with sedatives of a weak effect.

For the treatment of migraines, monoclonal antibodies are used, an innovative therapy method.

Also, with some types of the disease, physiotherapy and vortex field procedures are used to eliminate pain in the back of the head . However, it is possible to use massages and other influences only as directed by a doctor. 

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