Is A Headache In The Back Of The Head A Cause For Concern?

A headache in the back of the head isn't particularly common, although that is not to say that it is a rarity. Most of the time we experience headaches in the area of the forehead, the top front half of the upper scalp, or around one or both of the eyes. When a headache in the back of the head does occur, it seems to be something out of the ordinary, and can be more than a bit frightening.

If we seldom experience a headache, when we do get one chances are it's nothing serious. And if we know the cause behind a headache, we generally recognize it for what it is, a symptom of a disease or disorder we're already aware of. Like most other symptoms, when the condition is mild and seldom occurs, we usually needn't worry. When it occurs frequently, or seems to be getting worse with time, we know a visit to the doctor is probably advisable.

Nerve Connections - There is nerve in the brain, the trigeminal nerve, also called the headache nerve. Whatever triggers this nerve results in a headache. Headaches in the back of the head are often believed to be caused by a disorder in the neck, such as a sore or inflamed joint. The primary sensory nerve in the back of the head is called the occipital nerve. When the occipital nerve is stimulated, we may feel pain in the back of the head, though this pain is not necessarily the same as a headache. It's been shown however, that there is a connection between the occipital nerve and the trigeminal nerve, so if the former is stimulated, there is the possibility that the trigeminal nerve could in some instances be triggered as well, leading to a headache in the back of the head.

Tonsils - What are some of the more common causes of such headaches? Tonsils are one reason. When we cough, nerve roots in region of the tonsils, called upper cervical nerve roots, can sometimes be stretched, leading to pain being experienced in the back of the head, and possibly a headache.

Ice Pick Headache - A common type of headache, called the ice pick headache (indomethacin), can be experienced in different parts of the brain, including in the back of the brain. These headaches are usually quite brief, but can be very intense. Slightly over a third of the general population has experienced this type of headache at one time or another.

Referred Pain - Sometimes when we have a disease or disorder affecting some portion of our body, we experience what is called a referred pain. This is pain that is felt somewhere other than where the actual problem is occurring. Kidney or liver problems for example, can sometimes cause pain to be felt in the shoulder, instead of, or in addition to, abdominal pain. In the case of headaches, one type, a cervicogenic headache, results from a problem in one of the joints in the spine, and the pain is felt in the back of the head. The upper neck bones may be a source of this referred pain as well, and such headaches are most often experienced by those who at one time or another have suffered a neck injury or whiplash.

Tension - Another cause of this type of a headache is tension. We all experience tension at one time or another, and are not terribly surprised when the end result is a headache. As common as this is, the true cause of these headaches, or why tension leads to a headache, is poorly understood, if understood at all. Improper posture, sitting in front of a computer, staying motionless in one position for an extended period of time, and a general lack of exercise, all seem to contribute to tension. This would indicate there are things we can do to lessen the chances of experiencing a headache in the back of the head, although we may never know how to avoid one completely. Until that day arrives, keep a supply of aspirin or ibuprofen in the medicine chest.


 

 

 

 


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