Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
Sometimes, Its One Side
This headache pattern creates a strong band of tension along the base of the head that comes up over the back of the head. When it is only active on one side, the pain is focused at the base of the skull and creates tension that mostly radiates up the back of the head. When I have this headache, it is usually only a few minutes of joint work and stretching until it is gone.
Usually, It’s Both Sides
The client complains of a headache at the base of their head. They may continue to say that it is more of a neck ache that extends up into their head. It is usually dull and miserable instead of being sharp and blinding. If I ask further, they complain about it coming up over their head toward the front. At times, they describe this as less like pain and more like tensin and pressure.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
In another post, I discussed how joint problems perpetuate trigger points. This pattern persists when the top vertebrae (atlas) gets wedged forward underneath the head. This posture happens, for example, when you’re sitting in front of the computer like the woman in this picture:
It is even worse when you prop your chin in your hand. After you get up from the computer, this muscle continues to pull down on the back of your head, creating “Forward Head Posture.”
Painful, Active Listening
When your head is in front of your shoulders, muscles in the back of the neck strain to pull it back, before computers and mobile phones, this posture was mostly a problem in counselors who craned their necks to listen empathically.
Clients often connect this headache at the base of their head with something that they ate. For instance, one client noticed that he gets this headache and night sweats and this headache in the back after eating beef with garlic seasoning.
This headache often happens at night. People often refer to it as “that headache that comes on at 3:15.” They are looking for a better pillow or sleeping position. These trigger points activate with fixated joints in the upper neck and the head lying in a particular fixed position. The stretches in the self-care section help the 3:15 headaches from coming on.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
Getting Relief on Your Own
Clinically Proven Self-Care
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
Through Shared Expertise
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
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Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?
This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.
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.
*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 inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.