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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 head 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 bad, 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.

When this headache is less active, people come in and talk about a band of tension around their head. When it is on one side, they will explain the tension around the ear and will 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 head.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Like the headache on the top of your head, this is created by tilting movements to an extreme, like painting the molding. 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 it is pushed into a hard or cold surface right there at the base of your head. This is more likely to create a headache on top of the head, or headache in the forehead but this headache is also a common result.

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. Often, people hold this position for long periods, which allows the upper cervical joints to become displaced and fixated. Once that happens, this headache becomes more stubborn.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

This small group of muscles secures the base of the head to the top cervical vertebrae. They are instrumental in fine-tuning the position of the top vertebrae. Many bodyworkers find this area to be a key area for balancing the posture and movement of the rest of the body.

When they are chronically tightened, these muscles perpetuate Forward-Head Posture. You can read more about their structure in this post about the suboccipital muscles.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

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 major 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 inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

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