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Pain, Burning & Tingling on Back of Head

Trigger point pain post includes

  • how people describe this problem
  • activities that create or aggravate the trigger point
  • links to relief through self-care, anatomy, and massage notes

Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

When the trigger point severely restricts the muscle, people complain of pain, 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 hands 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. 

Heat makes it Worse

Sometimes, they’ll complain that they tried heat, but the pain and 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. 

Looking Up With a Twist

I have created this headache by working with a high screen 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. For instance, washing hair in the sink at a salon, lying on the arm of the couch might aggravate this trigger point.

Pillow Pressure

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

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

About these 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 Strategies

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 materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.