Headache on the Top of Your Head

Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
and more…


How People Describe This Pain Pattern

Clients come in and touch the top of their heads saying, “I have a headache on the top of my head.” They almost always lean forward with their chin up and turned to one side while talking. They will often bend at the waist while sitting to make this more comfortable.

Many of them complain of neck tension, especially when turning their head. They often note that it is tight where they touch near the top of the back of their neck. The headache is consistently more bothersome than neck tension.



How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This one of the problems that are created by craning the neck forward while twisting the chin up and to one side. The original research talked about it being a problem with bird watchers. I find that it is more common in people watching monitors up high while twisting to one side. I have also seen this from painting the molding. You could get it from watching TV at the sports bar but looking down at the chicken wings and drinking beer breaks up the pattern, so I don’t see many of them.

This is more likely to become a problem when the neck is propped for long periods in one position. This could happen when one is sleeping or resting on their chin on their hand while using the computer.

This muscle is almost always involved in cases of vehicular whiplash.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Effective relief starts with an understanding of the anatomy.

About the coloring of the illustrations…

This muscle straps across the back of the neck and is involved in extending and rotating the head on the neck. This post tells you more about splenius capitis.

Very Similar Pain Pattern, Different Muscle

Sometimes the headache at the top of the head is caused by this muscle. It has a different focus in self-care strategies and some different symptoms that might lead you to more effective relief. Take a look at this post.


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.


Treatment Notes for Therapists

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

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


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’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Optimizing Tension for
the Best Day Ever

This post explores this idea and optimizing the ever-present tension in our lives for our best performance.

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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