Home » Self Care – Headache and Tender at Top of Neck when Turning Head

Self Care – Headache and Tender at Top of Neck when Turning Head

Activities To Avoid or Change:

Avoid sleeping or reading or watching TV, etc. with your head on the arm of the couch. Also, avoid sleeping with a draft on your neck or with an awkward twist. If you’re traveling, us a pillow like the one below.


For Temporary Relief:

Try using an Ice Pack. This problem often responds well to icing and stretching. Icing will quell the irritation and stretching will losen the fixated joints.

It’s simple and often works, especially when you have overstretched by tucking your chin to read. Place an ice pack at the base of your head so that it covers the area between your head and neck.

The pillow in the pic is nice but you can also just lay on a small ice pack. If you use an ice pack often, try these that are already covered in cloth.

Click here for guidelines on using an ice pack safely and effectively.

Use a travel pillow, like this one, which is available on Amazon.

I’ve bought several of them for my wife at airports. We traveled once without it, and she was, well, a bit grouchy and complained about her neck. I now make sure that we have it or just cheerfully get another one before we board. It’s worth it. They’re cheaper on Amazon.

Here’s a quick and easy trick.

I keep these little patches around.

You can place this on the back of your neck so that the top of the patch is across the boney bump on the base of your head. Right along the midline of your neck, at the top.

After a few minutes, you will feel the cooling sensation. Gently stretch the top of your neck side to side, turning and tilting it forward. This usually releases gently over a few minutes with surprising ease.

By the way, these are also great for travel.

You can get these patches at almost any drug store or grocery store or on Amazon.



These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

Tenderness at the top of the neck is caused by local joint problems. The trigger points referral generates the headache. These stretches will help with longer-lasting relief.

Do The Box.

This routine is great for more complete relief and can be done with things you probably have on hand.

Do The Box at the top of the neck. Twice.

Is Your Neck Extra Stiff and Painful?

Sometimes, turning your head is strongly limited by pain. This indicates that more than one of the muscles that creates a “stiff neck” is involved. Check out these posts on a stiff neck.

In this case, if the problem does not resolve with home care, consider professional help from your bodyworker. They will offer quicker relief, have longer-lasting results, and keep you focused on effective self-care.

Knock Out the Supporting Muscles

This muscle contributes to Forward-Head posture. It becomes short and strong. Once the head has become imbalanced over the trunk, this muscle is supported to become shorter and stronger.

If you have Forward-Head Posture, review this collection, especially the self-care exercise Tuck, Tilt, Turn and Lift.


I’d love your feedback
on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at integrativeworks@gmail.com.


Yoga Corner

Headstand by yogateket.com

If you’re a yoga practitioner, you should avoid headstands until you get these headaches under control. I’ve had several clients that have reactivated this headache with headstands.


Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

Other trigger point patterns
have similar areas of referral
and impaired activities.

Here is the associated post that discusses the pain patterns, impaired activities and activities that generally cause this pattern. You may also want to look at other patterns for upper neck pain.

Your neuromuscular therapist has better strategies to work in this area. It helps to balance the atlas and correct Forward Head posture. There are other things that your bodyworker will do to create better postural correction and longer-lasting relief.



This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Is the pain from
degenerative discs or
trigger points in the muscle?

This post discusses the differences in pain from disc problems and pain from trigger points. Who should you see to help with your pain?

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.

Question? Comment? Typo?
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integrativeworks@gmail.com

*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.