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Pain, burning and tingling in the back of the head

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

When the trigger point severely restricts the muscle, people complain of burning, tingling, and “that numb feeling” on the back of the head. They are often concerned because the pain is tingling and can feel prickly along the back of their head. They may say that it bothers them less now but will bother them if they keep their head tilted back.

When the trigger point is mild, people complain of a headache and run their hand up and down the back of their head on one side. They often complain of a bigger area of pain and are surprised at how small the area is that they are actually touching. 

Sometimes, they’ll complain that they tried heat but the pain an tingling got worse.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

They often do not know why or how this happened, unless there was an incident that whipped their head around. It might be a car accident but also occurs when they fall backward while holding their head up. In these cases of trauma, there are often several patterns. This one is particularly alarming because of the “nervy” pain in their head. 

I have created this headache by working with a screen that is high on the wall in front of me. After hours of doing so, my head will start to get itchy and tingly before a headache comes on. It can also be caused by laying the top of the neck on the edge of a hard surface, e.g., washing hair in the sink at a salon, lying on the arm of the couch.

Sleeping with pressure on the back of the head and neck may bother them and disturb sleep. They prefer to get relief from an ice pack on the back of their neck than heat and may complain that heat makes it worse, very quickly.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

This muscle is part of intrinsic back muscles that stabilize the vertebrae and cranium. Read more about it in this post n semispinalis capitis.

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 Massage and Bodywork

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 improving the format. We are also adding 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

This post shows you how to press out the trigger points and stretch the infraspinatus muscle. It’s a small muscle on the back of the shoulder but creates a number of problems, including:

  • shoulder pain when sleeping
  • loss of grip strength
  • upper neck pain
  • pain along the inside edge of the shoulder blade

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 it 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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