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Headache All Over Or In A Band Around The Head

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get relief,
and more…

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 this headache, and they are just overwhelmed by some other headache pain. 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

When this headache is less active, people will talk about a band of tension around their heads. When it is on one side, they will explain the tension around the 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. This might include an activity like painting the molding or watching a high screen at a bar.

It is also aggravated by rocking the head with lots of little repetition, like when you’re using reading glasses while reading a menu and discussing the prices of a long wine list.


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.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

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

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.

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 and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

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