Pain or headaches at the base of your skull are often the result of tight muscles in the back of your neck due to tension, stress, or fatigue. Pain in back of head at the base of skull can also be caused by a herniated cervical disc or injury to your upper neck. Sometimes, the headaches that start at the base of the skull can be tension headaches, cluster headaches, or cervicogenic headaches.
Pain in the back of your head at the base of your skull can cause your head to hurt with dull, nagging persistent pains. If you have a trapped nerve in your cervical spine, you may experience sharp jabbing pains that radiate to your temples or behind your eye. Headaches at the back of your neck can also cause pain that travels down your spine. Neck pain at the base of your skull may also result in shoulder pain, back pain, or tingling in your arms.
In most cases, the neck pain and headaches at the back of your head go away when you get proper rest or apply home remedies. For example, applying a heat or cold pack, getting a neck or shoulder massage, or using essential oils can help to relieve a stiff neck that causes headaches.
In this article, you will find out what it means if you have a headache in the back of your head and neck. You will also find helpful ways to alleviate the pressure and tension at the base of your skull. In some cases, if the pain doesn’t go away, you should see a doctor.
The Anatomy of Your Upper Spine
The upper part of your spine that joins to the base of your skull is called the cervical spine. Dr. Robert E. Windsor, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, says that the cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae. These are referred to as C1 to C7 vertebrae. The first vertebra (C1) is called the atlas and upon which the base of the skull rests.1
The cervical spinal vertebrae are also responsible for most of the movement of your neck and head. Dr. Windsor says that the cervical spine is the most mobile part of your spine.
Intervertebral discs are located between each vertebra and these act as shock absorbers. These are round, jelly-like discs that prevent inflammation and pain in the back of your neck.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica says that you also have nerves and muscles in the back of your neck. The muscles join the top of your neck to the base of your skull. The trapezius muscles also attach your neck to your scapula (shoulder blade). There is also a system of nerves in the back of your neck, some of which form part of the spinal cord.
Headaches at the base of your skull can occur if any of the discs between the vertebrae rupture or you get pinched nerves in your neck.
The Connection Between Neck Pain and Headaches in Back of Head
Finding the exact cause why the back of your head hurts can be a challenge. Sore neck and headaches can be caused by issues with muscles, ligaments, nerves, or vertebrae in your spine.
Dr. William Blahd on WebMD reports that spinal discs can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve in your neck. This can cause shooting pains in your head or back of your neck. Depending on the severity of the disc rupture, you may also experience weakness or numbness in your shoulder or down one of your arms.
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reports that muscle tenderness in the back of your neck can also cause migraine-like headaches. This can result in pounding pain in the back of your head or top of your skull. It could also be that dysfunction with vertebrae in your neck is connected with a constant headache and neck pain. Pain in Base of Skull, Types of Pain, Headaches , Headache Pain Causes
Pain in Back of Head at the Base of Skull – Common Symptoms
Mild to severe headache pain in the back of your head at the base of your skull isn’t the only symptom you may suffer from. Upper neck and head pain can also be associated with other distressing symptoms.
According to Dr. David M. Biondi who specializes in headache management, some other symptoms of pain at the base of the skull can include:
- Back of the neck pain and headaches along with neck stiffness
- A tingling sensation or “pins and needles” in your right arm or left arm
- A stinging feeling or numbness in your shoulder blade
- Numbness over part of your scalp
- Throbbing pain behind one eye.
- Pain that intensifies when you turn your head or neck
- Restricted neck motion
- Nausea or vomiting caused by a migraine
- Knots in the neck at the base of the skull (myofascial trigger points)
Headaches or Pain at Base of Skull – Common Causes
What can be the reasons for pain in the back of the head and at the base of your skull and neck? Let’s look at what can be causing your sore neck and headache.
- Tension headache
- Upper neck injury or strain
- Stiff neck
- Pinched cervical nerve and herniated disc in your upper neck
- Arthritis headaches
- Occipital neuralgia
- Cluster headaches
Pain in Base of Skull, Types of Pain, Headaches , Headache Pain Causes