Pain in the Back of the Head – What is the Cause?

What to do with pain in the back of the head?

Pain located in the back of the head, neck, and shoulders is very common. There can be many causes of pain located in the back of the head and neck. Pain can originate from tension headaches and migraines, as well as physical conditions brought on by stress, poor posture, injury, inflammation, pinched nerves, and other problems of the spine and neck.

Is it Tension Headache or Migraine?

Many people with pain in the back of their head, neck, and shoulders do not stop to consider that the source of their pain could be migraines. Instead, we assume that the source of our pain must be due to a physical problem such as chronic forward head posture, a “stiff neck” from too much computer use, or other muscle stiffness and cramps. At this point many of us take over-the-counter pain killers, rearrange our desks to meet ergonomic standards, join a gym, start practicing yoga, and seek treatment from chiropractors and massage therapists to relieve our pain. Unfortunately for many of us, the relief brought on by these treatments or lifestyle changes is fleeting at best.

The lack of response to common pain treatment for head and neck pain can be very frustrating for many people. Chronic pain sufferers will frequently go from specialist to specialist seeking out a diagnosis. Many people do get diagnosis ranging anywhere from occipital neuralgia, cervicogenic headache, to TMJ disorders. Unfortunately, treatment for these conditions can sometimes have no effect on their pain.

Why is this? Essentially, many of these people are suffering from migraines that have never been correctly diagnosed. Too frequently people believe that migraines only cause single sided, throbbing, severe headaches accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity, and visual disturbances. In fact, as many as 60% of all migraine sufferers report neck pain (sometimes throbbing,) stiffness, or tightness, at some point during their migraine attack. The reason for this is simple – migraine causes blood vessel and surrounding tissue inflammation anywhere in the head, neck, and shoulders.


If all the other treatments you have tried for your head and neck pain have been unsuccessful – please consider that you may have migraines and may respond better to treatments which address the cause of your pain, not just the symptoms.