5 causes of neck pain and how to deal with it

5 causes of neck pain and how to deal with it

5 causes of neck pain and how to deal with it

January 17, 2021

Educational program Health

You may be taking painkillers too often.
Photo by Ekaterina Komissarova

Ekaterina Komissarova

Lifehacker medical journalist

5 causes of neck pain and how to deal with it


A headache that radiates to the back of the head is especially common for those who work a lot at the table – with papers or at a laptop. It is unpleasant, but usually safe and goes away on its own fairly quickly.

However, sometimes a headache in the back of the head can be a symptom of a deadly condition.

When you need to see a doctor immediately if you have pain in the back of your head

Contact your therapist or, depending on how you feel, call an ambulance, if:

  • Pain in the back of the head arose immediately after a blow or head injury.
  • Sharp, severe pain appeared suddenly. Especially dangerousif she woke you up in the middle of the night.
  • The pain is aggravated by coughing or changing position.
  • There is stiffness (“petrification”) of the neck muscles: you cannot tilt your head forward or to your shoulders.
  • Along with severe pain, a fever appeared – the temperature jumped above 38.9 ° C.
  • The pain is accompanied by dizziness, loss of balance, confusion, nausea and vomiting, neurological symptoms: double vision or blurred vision, severe weakness (especially on one side of the body), numbness or cramps in the limbs, slurred speech or difficulty understanding words surrounding.
  • In addition to severe pain, there is another symptom – reddened whites of the eyes with broken capillaries.
  • Pain appeared shortly after the bite of any animal in any place on the body.

Such symptoms may indicate intracranial hemorrhage, stroke, or serious brain infections that require urgent medical attention.

If there are no threatening signs, you can exhale. Most likely, discomfort in the back of the head is caused by relatively harmless reasons.

Why does the back of the head hurt and what to do about it

Here are five of the most widespread conditions and situations that can cause occipital headache.

1. You are overworked or nervous

The so-called tension headacheHDN) is the most common case of pain in the back of the head. It occurs if you spent a lot of time sitting behind the wheel or leaning over a book, papers, or a laptop. However, other factors can also cause TTH, such as prolonged eye strain, not enough water you drink, or a stressful environment from which you cannot escape for a long time.

Such pain is dull, compressive in nature – as if the head was enclosed in a dense wide hoop. With TTH, there is no sensation of throbbing, nausea, or vomiting, and it does not get worse with head turning or other movements.

What to do

You can just endure – for example, lie down and relax. TTH in many cases resolves within 30 minutes. If you can’t get enough rest, or if your headache is interfering with your work, over-the-counter pain relievers will help. It is important to take them strictly according to the instructions and in no case continue to use them for more than 2-3 days.

If the pain occurs too often or does not go away for a long time, be sure to consult a therapist. Your doctor will advise you on how to deal with the situation. Therapy options include:

  • Massage.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Training in relaxation techniques – you will be taught how to deal with stress.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This psychotherapeutic method will also help you relax and take control of your life.

2. You have a migraine

Migraine is a common type of recurring headache. Typically, the first migraine attack occurs in childhood. With age, episodes become more frequent – up to several times a week. Women aged 35–45 suffer the most from migraines.

You can recognize a migraine by its characteristic features: severe throbbing pain that covers only one part of the head, increased sensitivity to smells and light, nausea, blurred vision. Unpleasant sensations are aggravated by movement.

What to do

The most common prescription for a migraine is as follows: take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as paracetamol, and lie down to rest in a quiet, darkened room until the attack passes.

If migraine occurs again and again, be sure to talk about it with your doctor. Your doctor can help you identify triggers—those factors that trigger pain. This may be stress, lack of sleep, the use of certain foods or drinks (chocolate, sugar, coffee, alcohol), excessive physical activity, sudden changes in the weather.

Depending on what exactly is causing your migraine, your doctor will recommend how to overcome it. Perhaps he will prescribe medication, refer you to physical therapy, or suggest ways to reduce stress.

3. You overuse headache medication

If you get headaches from time to time and take over-the-counter pain relievers, that’s fine. But if you drink analgesics more than two or three times a week for months, it can ruin your life: there will be a so-called drug headache.

It is possible to assume that we are talking about this phenomenon, according to the following featured:

  • Your head began to bother you daily.
  • The worst headache you experience in the morning after…






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