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Headache All Over Or In A Band Around The Head

Table of Contents

How People Describe This Pain Pattern


When this headache is very active, people wave their hands around their heads and say that they have a headache all over. Sometimes, when I ask, the details tell me that it is not all over. Instead, they are overwhelmed and it feels more like a band around the side of the head. But, when it is particularly intense, people refer to this as a migraine. If they can’t get specific, I ask them how it started or when it is the worst.

Band Around the Side

Sometimes, when this headache is less intense, people trace a band of tension around their heads. When it is on one side, they will explain the tension over their ear and later talk about how it extends to the eye or back of the head. People seldom connect it to the spot at the base of their heads.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Like the headache on the top of your head, tilting movements create this headache. These activities might include painting the molding or watching a high screen at a bar.

Rocking the head with lots of little repetition aggravates this condition. For instance, you might be discussing a long wine list while using reading glasses.


Sometimes this headache is created by stretching your head forward, especially when pushed into a hard or cold surface right there at the base of your head. However, this is more likely to create a headache on top of the head or a headache on the forehead.

The Common Cause

This posture is one of the most common causes of headaches that I see in my office. When you jut your chin forward to work on the computer, watch a game, lean in to listen, or rest your head in your hands, these muscles will tighten. People often hold this position for long periods, allowing the upper cervical joints to become displaced and fixated. Once that happens, this headache becomes more stubborn.


Sometimes, people complain that they “slept funny.” I’ve had this from an awkward sleeping position on a plane or in a car. A cold draft or indigestion seem to make this worse.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

About these Illustrations…

These muscles strap the head onto the upper neck and fine-tune movements. This post has more about the anatomy of suboccipital muscles.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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