Pain in the back of the head

Pain in the back of the head

Pain in the back of the head

Pain in the back of the head. Pain in the back of the head may be due to muscle tension, joint restriction or prolonged miscarriage. Back pain is a disorder that affects a larger proportion of the population and is often linked to dysfunction in muscles, neck, upper back or jaw. Quality of life and work function can be severely affected by the lack of measures or treatment.


Scroll below to see two great workout videos with exercises that can help with headaches in the back of the head.


VIDEO: 5 Clothes Exercises against Stiff Neck and Neck Headache

Tight and sore muscles in the neck - in combination with stiff joints - are the two most common causes of headaches in the back of the head. Muscle tension in the neck tends to build up over a longer period of time - until the malfunction becomes so strong that they begin to send pain signals to make you aware of the problem.


Below are five movement and stretching exercises that can help you resolve tight neck muscles and poor neck function. Click below to see the training program.

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VIDEO: Strength Exercises for the Shoulders with Elastic

Well-functioning shoulder blade and shoulder muscles can relieve strain on the neck. Several studies have shown that specific shoulder training can cause minor neck pain and neck problems. After all, shoulders are the platform on which all neck movements are based.

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Headaches and headaches are often aggravated by a lot of stress, a lot of caffeine, alcohol, dehydration, poor diet, tight neck muscles and are often experienced as a pressing pain in the back of the head at the top of the neck - often worse on one side than the other, and when aggravated it can feel as if it is moving forward on the head towards the temples and onwards behind the eye.


This mentioned presentation is often due to one upper trapezius myalgia (read more here), which simply means an over tension in the upper trapezius muscle, ie the one responsible for lifting the shoulders upwards. So it is this muscle that 'lifts shoulders up to the ears'which is a common expression if one is stressed. So there is a good portion of truth in this expression.


- When muscles and joints hurt in the head

Some of the most common causes of back pain are mentioned above, but it can also be due to referred pain from muscles in the transition to the neck / upper part of the thoracic spine or jaw.


Sternocleidomastoid myalgia - Photo Wikimedia

Sternocleidomastoid myalgia - Wikimedia Commons


Some common myalgias / myoses that can cause referred headaches / neck pain are upper trapezius, levator scapula, sternocleidomastoid (SCM), masseter (large chewing muscle), temporalis (muscle above the temple), medial and lateral pterygoid muscle (internal jaw muscle), suboccipitalis (upper neck muscles), semispinalis capitis og splenius capitis. It is important to remember that a muscular failure or dysfunction can not be blamed on just one muscle - there will always be more muscles that do not do their job. To put it a little simply, if you have a muscle that is too tight, then the antagonist (the one who does the opposite) must be strengthened - but it is unfortunately not so black and white, as several muscle functions slide into each other - and that there will always be a joint restriction / dysfunction where there will be a muscular dysfunction, as it is the muscles that move the joints and vice versa.


Suboccipitalis trigger point pain pattern - Photo MT

Suboccipitalis trigger point pain pattern - Photo MT


Test: We recommend that you look at the various myalgias in the link above and from these they will give you a rough picture of what muscles you think are contributing to your headache. What muscles do you think are involved in your headache? Tell me in the comments box or send us one message on facebook.


What can I do even against muscle and joint pain?

1. General exercise, specific exercise, stretching and activity are recommended, but stay within the pain limit. Two walks a day of 20-40 minutes make good for the body and aching muscles.

2. Trigger point / massage balls we strongly recommend - they come in different sizes so you can hit well even on all parts of the body. There is no better self help than this! We recommend the following (click the image below) - which is a complete set of 5 trigger point / massage balls in different sizes:

trigger point balls

3. Training: Specific training with training tricks of various opponents (such as this complete set of 6 knits of different resistance) can help you train strength and function. Knit training often involves more specific training, which in turn can lead to more effective injury prevention and pain reduction.

4. Pain Relief - Cooling: Biofreeze is a natural product that can relieve pain by cooling the area gently. Cooling is especially recommended when the pain is very severe. When they have calmed down then heat treatment is recommended - it is therefore advisable to have both cooling and heating available.

5. Pain Relief - Heating: Warming up tight muscles can increase blood circulation and reduce pain. We recommend the following reusable hot / cold gasket (click here to read more about it) - which can be used both for cooling (can be frozen) and for heating (can be heated in the microwave).


Recommended products for pain relief

Biofreeze spray-118Ml-300x300

Biofreeze (Cold / cryotherapy)


A good start for those who are regularly plagued with upper back, neck, shoulder and headache will be a strengthening of the shoulder blades and rotator cuff muscles (with these exercises). It is also recommended to train the deep neck flexors (DNF muscles).



Also read: Pain in the muscles? What exactly are muscle nodules and trigger points?

Also read: Much neck pain? Try these simple exercises.

Joint Restrictions (popularly called lockouts) - especially in the upper neck joints C0 (occipital joint), C1 (atlas), C2 (axis) and in the cervicotoracal junction C6, C7, T1, T2 (where the thoracic spine meets the neck) will also often be part of such a problem. When keeping records, these will often refer to atlas dysfunction (C0-C1), cervicotoracal dysfunction (CTO) and associated lack of movement, for example 'CTO right-sided lazy flex restriction' - which means that the joint C7 / T1 has limited movement in right lateral flexion / lateral flex .


Cervical facet joint - Photo Wikimedia

Cervical facet joint - Photo Wikimedia


Dysfunction in the upper cervical joint (neck joint) can in some cases give incorrect loads that can lead to increased tone in, among other things, the mentioned suboccipitalis and semispinalis muscles - this can in most cases be improved with the help of so-called corrective joint adjustments (which is used, inter alia, by chiropractors og manual therapists). It is therefore important that a clinician targets both muscles and joints, as well as prescribes exercises that can ensure a more correct activation of the muscles. Of course, it is the case that a treatment should be specific in relation to the patient's health situation, daily form and conditions. The treatment will often consist of restoring good movement in the joints as well as resolving tension in the muscles. When headaches are due to dysfunction in the neck, this is called cervicogenic headache.


Cervicogenic headache: - When the headache comes from the neck

When tight neck muscles and joints are the basis of the headache, this is referred to as cervical headache. This kind of headache is more common than most people think. Tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches usually overlap a good deal, forming what we call a combination headache.

It has been found that headaches often result from tension and dysfunction in the muscles and joints at the top of the neck, upper back / shoulder blade muscles and the jaw. A chiropractor will work with both muscles and joints to provide you with functional improvement and symptom relief. This treatment will be adapted to each patient based on a thorough examination, which also takes into account the patient's overall health situation. The treatment will most likely consist of joint corrections, muscle work, ergonomic / posture counseling as well as other treatments that are appropriate for the individual patient.


- 'Heat can have a soothing effect against back pain' - Photo Wikimedia


Chiropractic: - Clinically proven effect on relieving headaches.

Chiropractic treatment, consisting of neck mobilization / manipulation and muscle work techniques, has a clinically proven effect on the relief of headaches. A systematic review of studies, a meta-study, conducted by Bryans et al (2011), published as “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headaches. ” concluded that neck manipulation has a soothing, positive effect on both migraine and cervicogenic headaches - and thus should be included in the standard guidelines for this type of headache relief.


What does a chiropractor do?

Muscle, joint and nerve pain: These are things that a chiropractor can help prevent and treat. Chiropractic treatment is mainly about restoring movement and joint function that can be impaired by mechanical pain. This is done by so-called joint correction or manipulation techniques, as well as joint mobilization, stretching techniques, and muscular work (such as trigger point therapy and deep soft tissue work) on the involved muscles. With increased function and less pain, it may be easier for individuals to engage in physical activity, which in turn will have a positive effect on both energy and health. Read more about chiropractors here (in Danish).


Tension headache / tension headache: - Do you have your shoulders under your ears, or?

One of the most common forms of headaches is tension / stress headaches, and most often there are several causes for this.

This type of headache can be aggravated by stress, high levels of caffeine, alcohol, dehydration, poor diet, tight neck muscles, etc. and is often experienced as a pressure / pinching band around the forehead and head, as well as the neck in certain cases.


Did you know: - Blueberry extract has a proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect?


In case of severe headaches, especially if you have not had this before, it is important to consult a doctor or GP. High blood pressure can also be dangerous, as this is a risk factor for, among other things, stroke. Contact the emergency room or GP if you are in the slightest doubt - it is always better to be on the safe side.


Neck pain can be complex - Photo Wikimedia


General advice for headaches or headache prevention

With general lifestyle changes one can reduce the frequency of headaches:


Drink water: Often, dehydration can be a factor in headaches.
Exercise or exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce muscle tension. Regular stretching can also be soothing.
Avoid too much caffeine: Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor and can therefore be a contributor to headaches.
Headache after red wine and cheese night? If you feel that you are food-sensitive, avoid drinking and diet foods that have been linked to increased headaches.
Stress down: Make sure you have time for yourself amidst all the hustle and bustle. Maybe breathing techniques courses or yoga may be for you
Sleep Quality: Sleep is very important for recovery for both body and mind. Good sleep involves routine, regular sleep and no major changes when you get up or fall asleep.


Stretching can be relieving for tight muscles - Photo Seton


Better sleep quality and less neck pain with new pillow?

Ergonomic cervical pillow - of latex (click here to read more):

Does it work? Ja, the evidence from several good studies (Grimmer-Sommers 2009, Gordon 2010) is clear: Cervical ergonomic pillow of latex is there Best you can rest your head on to Reduce neck pain, shoulder / arm pain, as well as better sleep quality and comfort. Invest in your own health already today by click here to read sea. The network house we have linked to here also sends to Norway.


This concludes the studies when it comes to proper pillow use:

... "This study provides evidence to support recommendation of rubber pillows in the management of waking cervical pain, and to improve sleep quality and pillow comfort. " … - Grimmer-Summer 2009: J Man Ther. 2009 Dec;14(6):671-8.

... "Latex pillows can be recommended over any other type of control waking headache and scapular / arm pain.”… - Gordon 2010: Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular / arm pain. J Pain Res. 2010 Aug 11;3:137-45.


Strength Training - Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Strength training - Photo by Wikimedia Commons


- Exercises to prevent headaches and pain in the upper part of the neck / back of the head?

An expert in muscle and skeletal disorders can, based on your diagnosis, inform you of the ergonomic considerations you need to take to prevent further damage, thus ensuring the fastest possible healing time.

After the acute part of the pain is over, in most cases you will also be assigned home exercises that also help to reduce the chance of relapse. In the case of chronic ailments, it is necessary to go through the motor movements you do in everyday life, so as to be able to weed out the cause of your pain occurring time and again.


MRI image of the head

MR image of the head

Description of MR image: Here we see an MRI image of the head. You can read more about MRI examinations in our imaging department.


X-ray image / examination of the skull

X-ray of the skull with anatomical landmarks - Photo Wikimedia Commons

Explanation of X-ray: Here we see an X-ray of a skull at a lateral angle (side view). In the picture we see a number of anatomical landmarks, including sinuses, ear canals, and the different bone regions.


Diagnoses that can cause headaches in the back of the head:

Cervicogenic headache (read more about when neck dysfunction causes headaches)


Semispinalis capitis myalgia

Splenius capitis myalgia

Suboccipitalis muscle myalgia

tension headache



Lecture or ergonomic fit for your business?

If you want a lecture or ergonomic fit for your company, please contact us on Facebook or email. Studies have shown positive effects of such measures (Punnett et al, 2009) in the form of reduced sick leave and increased work productivity.


Can this article help someone else you love? Share with friends or on social media then well! They will appreciate that.


Also read:

- Did you know Ginger can reduce muscle pain og reduce brain damage by ischemic stroke?

- Did you know that foam roller can increase mobility and deep blood circulation in your muscles?

- Backache?

- Headache?

- Pain in the neck?



  1. NAMF - Norwegian Occupational Medical Association
  2. NHI - Norwegian Health Informatics
  3. Bryans, R. et al. Evidence-based Guidelines for the Chiropractic Treatment of Adults with Headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jun; 34 (5): 274-89.
  4. Punnett, L. et al. A Conceptual Framework for Integrating Workplace Health Promotion and Occupational Ergonomics Programs. Public Health Rep. , 2009; 124 (Suppl 1): 16–25.



Recommended Literature:

- Headache: Pain Relief 101

Description: Headache - Pain Relief 101. A good book (available in kindle version) that deals with a handy way to get rid of headache-related pain. Click here (in Danish) to read more about the book or to order it.



- Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain

Description: Painless - a revolutionary method of stopping chronic pain. The world-famous Pete Egoscue, who runs the well-known The Egoscue Method Clinic in San Diego, has written this very good book. He has created exercises that he calls E-Cises and in the book he shows step-by-step descriptions with pictures. He himself claims that his method has a full 95 percent success rate. Click here (in Danish) to read more about his book, as well as see a preview.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):


Causes of back pain?

Some of the most common causes of back pain are muscle tension (also known as myalgias or myoses), joint restrictions or overload over a long period of time. Back pain is a disorder that affects a larger proportion of the population and is often linked to dysfunction in muscles, neck, upper back or jaw. Quality of life and work function can be severely affected by the lack of measures or treatment. Back pain and headaches are often aggravated by a lot of stress, a lot of caffeine, alcohol, dehydration, poor diet, tight neck muscles and are often experienced as a depressive pain in the back of the head, often worse on one side than the other, and when aggravated it can feel as if it is advancing on the head towards the temples and onwards behind the eye (the latter is known as upper trapezius myosis pattern).

Related questions with the same answer: "Why do you get a pain in the back of your head ?," Why do you get pain in the back of your head? "," Why do I have pain when I move my neck? "," Why can you get discomfort in the back of my head? "


Are there muscles in the back of the head?

Yes, there are muscles in the back of the head. Especially in the attachment to the back of the head from the neck. That is, among other things suboccipitalis, splenius capitis og semispinalis capitis which attaches to the back of the head and nearby structures. They can all contribute to pain in the upper part of the neck and back of the head - as well as give so-called cervicogenic headache.


Why did I hurt both my neck and my head?

Several of the joints and muscles from the neck can refer pain to the head in so-called referred pain patterns. It can also be a combination due to malfunction in muscles, tendons or joints. Referred pain in neck and back of head can also come from the jaw.

Related questions with the same answer: 'Why do I have pain in the back of my head and neck?'


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1 answer
  1. Karl says:

    Hello. Have read their good article about back pain. Are there any doctors, physiotherapists or chiropractors in Bergen that you can recommend?


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