Pain in Back of Head Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment

Headaches can range from nagging to seriously annoying that can disturb your daily activities. They can appear in any location on the head. A headache can be the primary source of discomfort or a symptom of problem in another region of the body. Some headache symptoms appear at the back of the head only and you keep on feeling pain limited in the region only.


The pain in the back of head can be caused due to various reasons. The type and location of pain are important factors in determining the aetiology of headaches. Severe and persistent headaches need immediate medical attention from the doctor. The most common causes of pain in the back of head are:

Tension-type Headache

Tension headache usually causes forehead pain, but are also the most common cause of pain in the back of the head. It can last up to 30 mins to 7 days. The headache is caused due to severe stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, skipping meals and not drinking enough water. Due to this patient may usually feel tightening around the back and front of the head.

Some of the common symptoms of Tension-type headache are:

  • Tightening sensation in the back or front of the head
  • Pain that is low to moderate, but can be severe at times
  • Nausea or vomiting.


Migraine headaches are a common type of recurring headache that frequently begins in childhood and increase in frequency and severity with age. Some of the common causes are emotional and physical stress or a change in diet. Migraine is most commonly seen in females.

Symptoms of migraine include:

  • Strong throbbing ache on one side of the head
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Visual Annoyance
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Tender muscles and sensitive skin


Arthritis headaches are caused due to inflammation and edema in the neck area. They are frequently associated with pain in the back of the head and neck. More severe discomfort is usually triggered by movement. Arthritis of any kind might cause these headaches.

Common symptoms of arthritis are:

Poor Posture

The muscles in the back of the head, upper back, neck, and jaw might be strained if you slouch when you sit or stand. It can also irritate the nerves in those locations. Poor posture can lead to tension headaches and pain in the back of the head as a result. Headaches caused by poor posture might be relieved by standing or sitting up straight. It can be cured with over-the-counter pain relievers and may also be cured with the help of physical therapy.

Low-Pressure Headache

Low-pressure headaches are more frequently known as spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH). This happens when there’s a spinal fluid leak in your neck or back. The leak causes the cushion of spinal fluid around your brain to decrease. Spontaneous intracranial hypotension causes severe discomfort in the back of the head and neck, which worsens when you stand or sit. Low-pressure headaches usually improve after half an hour of lying down. Some persons with SIH have a minor headache in the morning that gets worse throughout the day.

Cervicogenic Headache

It may feel like a headache with pain in the back of head but the issue is usually in the neck. When you feel pain in one place of the body but it's actually coming from another, this is known as referred pain. These aren't just any headaches; they're secondary headaches, which means they're an indication of something else going on in the body


In order to diagnose discomfort in the back of the head, the doctor will inquire about the patient's medical history as well as any previous injuries. To look for abnormalities, a physical examination and a neurological examination are usually performed. If a doctor's physical and neurological evaluations are inconclusive, he or she may prescribe additional imaging to rule out any other potential causes of pain. MRI scan may be performed to discover any impingement by providing three-dimensional pictures of particular body structures.


Headaches can typically be treated at home, but subsequent headaches and severe headaches should be assessed by a doctor to rule out underlying medical problems. Many headache symptoms can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you experience chronic headaches, some drugs, such as Extra-Strength Tylenol, can help.

When to visit a Doctor?

If you have a severe headache that is unlike anything you've ever experienced before, or if the headaches are getting worse, then you should contact a doctor immediately. Visit the hospital if your agony becomes unbearable to bear. There are some symptoms that indicate an emergency. If you experience headaches alongside any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical attention:

  • Mood swing and agitation
  • Fever and stiff neck
  • Slurred speech and weakness
  • Severe headaches

Headaches are very common. They can have an impact on a person's quality of life and capacity to do daily tasks. Many headaches go away on their own, but some are caused by more serious issues. Anyone experiencing pain in the back of their head should consult a doctor. If an underlying cause needs to be addressed, it is advisable to do so as soon as feasible.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does pain in the back of the head indicate?

Pain in back of head could be due to bad posture or other reasons. The most common is tension headache which happens when muscles in the scalp and neck get tensed. Pain radiates from the sides and back of the head as a result of this.

2. Do brain tumors cause pain in back of head?

Brain tumour can produce pain in the back of the head if it develops large enough to push the nerves or blood vessels. Headaches, on the other hand, are a poor indicator of a brain tumour.

3. What does a brain Tumour headache feel like?

Every patient's pain is different, but headaches caused due to brain tumours are usually continuous and worst at night or early in the morning. They're frequently described as dull, "pressure-type" headaches, however, some people report intense or "stabbing" pain as well.

4. Can anxiety cause headaches in the back of your head?

Anxiety headaches, also known as tension headaches, can strike anywhere on the head, including the front, sides, tops, and even the back.