Pain in the back of the head

Pain in the back of the head seems to be a common issue of people, as the number of people searching for information on the issues is very high. There are people who want to know about the causes, treatment as well as any accompanying symptoms of the condition. This article imparts information on causes as well as any possible treatment for headache in the back of head. To your information, most of the headaches especially the ones which are common, are usually not serious. However, one should not overlook any kind of head pain as it may be formidable sign of underlying disease or disorder.  Make a note of the difference between brain tumor and headache.

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Common causes of pain in the back of the head:

Cervicogenic headache:

Cervicogenic headache is perhaps the most common cause of head pain in the back of head. This kind of pain is associated with the joint of the upper spine. Cervicogenic headache is caused due to neck as the name suggests cervic (which means neck) and genic (caused due to). This pain is generally experienced in one side in the back of the head. The pain can progress and spread to the edges of the ear as well as to the forehead. The pain may be experienced due to traumatic injury to the neck or a whiplash injury. They may also experience restricted movement of the neck due to wear and tear of the upper neck bone joint. Cervicogenic headache is very common and approximately 4% of adults experience such pain.

Occipital Neuralgia:

Occipital Neuralgia is a kind of pain in the back of the head of serious and severe nature. This pain may spread to the crown area (top of the head) or into the eye of the same side. Your doctor may initially suggest you medications such as nerve- block, gabapentin or anti- inflammatory. People with the affliction of Occipital Neuralgia may also suffer from cervicogenic headache. It is still not clear with the experts whether occipital neuralgia or cervicogenic headache are the same condition or different from each other.


Migraine is not amongst the common condition that causes pain in the back of the head. Such headache back of head due to migraine may be experienced only in approximately 6% of migraine affected individuals, according to a survey done in 1970. A recent survey conducted in 2005 explains that approximately 39% of people affected with migraine may experience ache in the back portion of the heart, which may sometimes spread to neck. However, some survey confirms that the number of people experiencing such headache at the back of the head is 10% to 15% of all affected individuals. The condition may be extremely severe making you lie down for rest or even make you nausea. It is also studied that migraine does bit cause ache in any other location but every time the region of the pain changes with the pain. Read more about migraine treatment.

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Ice- pick headache:

Ice pick headache is a kind of headache which is extremely brief which lasts for few seconds but may be very intense. It is studied that approximately 35% of all people expense such ice pick headache. Such headache happens all of a sudden and may turn you wince. Incase if the condition is intense then you may also feel weakness at the knee. In some case of ice pick headache, one may experience pain in the back of the head or even neck. It may sometimes become difficult to determine whether the pain experienced is cervicogenic or ice- pick headache.

Ice cream headache:

ice cream headache is more or less like ice pick headache. It can affects at the temples usually but approx 6% young individuals complain about the pain afflicting at the back side of the head.

Serious causes of pain in the back of the head:

Aforementioned were some common factors that may lead to headache in the back of the head. However, there are some serious causes that should not be neglected. Here are a few:

Temporal Arteritis:

Temporal Arteritis is some how associated with occipital arteries, as runs up to the temporal arteries. The occipital arteries are located just next to greater occipital nerve it may cause the temporal arteritis to lead to pain which can be experienced at the back of the head. It is recorded that approximately 30 individuals out of 100,000 people experience temporal arthritis every year.

Vertebral Artery Dissection:

Vertebral artery dissection may be experienced with a sudden onset of pain in the back of the head. It is stated that this condition is less common that temporal arteritis as only 5 people out of 100,000 experiences this condition every year. This is a condition which if not treated timely may lead to fatal issues such as stroke. To distinguish and determine whether your head pain is the vertebral artery dissection or cervicogenic headache, you may have to learn the onset of the pain. As in case of vertebral artery dissection the pain is usually experienced with a rapid onset whereas in case of cervicogenic headache the pain grows through the time. However, the difference cannot be determined with 100% accuracy. This condition is usually diagnosed through imaging techniques such as MRI or magnetic resonance imaging etc.

Physically stimulated pain in the back of the head:

Orgasm headache is also referred to as coital headache which is experienced usually after the climax of coital activity. Such pain is explained as sudden intense pain which affects at the occipital region. According to one of the studies it is said that approximate 77% out of 30 individuals experienced occipital pain which was associated with orgasm. Such pain lasts for 30 minutes and remits after every two months.

High Altitude headache:

This kind of pain is usually experienced by mountain climbers in approximately 5% cases. This pain is also experienced at the back of the head.

There are many such kinds of physically stimulated pain in the head such s cough headache, dialysis headache, headache experienced by pool players, cardiac cephalalgia, hypnic headache, headache due to trauma etc. If any kind of headache at any region of the head is experienced it is essential to undergo diagnosis and ensure that the condition is not serious. The treatment of the pain may greatly depend on the factor that causes pain in the back of the head.

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