Headaches at the Base of the Skull Causes and Treatments

Have you suffered from headaches at the base of the skull? There are different types of headaches that people may get to experience. These headaches stem from different problems. For instance, you may begin to feel a headache forming in between your forehead that seems to radiate from your nose area. This may be a sinus headache brought about by having sinusitis.

Headaches at the base of the skull usually occur when you have flu. There are different causes of this pain. It can be felt up to the shoulder area and even up to the arms. There are even times when people feel that the pain is too great that they can barely get up. This is one type of a headache that hinders people from doing their usual tasks.

It is important that you will get to know the cause of a headache that you are feeling at the base of your skull so that proper treatments will be recommended by your doctor.

Causes of Headache at Base of Skull

Common Causes of Headache at Base of Skull

1.Neck Arthritis

Neck arthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis, is the most common cause of a headache at the base of the skull. According to a survey, more than 85% of old people suffer from cervical spondylosis.

As you age, the disks and joints on your neck will slowly degenerate. This will cause the inflammation of the elastic joint tissues and lead to neck pain and stiffness. The pain usually worse when you read a book in the same position for a long time. If you can rest or lie down for a while, the pain usually improves.

In addition to headaches, you may also suffer from muscle spasms and grinding noise when you turn your neck. In some cases, cervical spondylosis may reduce the nerve space and lead to numbness in arms, hands, fingers. You may even have difficulty in walking.

In most cases, cervical spondylosis can be relieved by medication and physical therapy. Physical therapy such as exercises can help relieve pain and strengthen the weak muscles. In addition, applying ice, heat or massage can also help relieve symptoms.

Some drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and cyclobenzaprine can also help relieve the neck pain and swelling. Surgery is not recommended for cervical spondylosis unless it is determined by a doctor.

2.Upper neck injury or trauma

An injury such as a car accident or a fall can damage the nerves, joints, or muscles in the back of your head. This will cause pain at the base of skull and neck. The pain may also radiate to your arm, back, or shoulder blade. When you move your neck or head, you may also suffer from stiff neck and constant severe headaches.

A more serious injury may cause ruptured disk or fracture of your spinal vertebrae and lead to sharp pain around your neck. In addition, Injury or trauma can also cause arthritis later.

3.Slipped Disc

The intervertebral disc is the discs of the spine, which is an elastic tissue between the vertebrae. It is a protective shock-absorbing pad that can cushion the bones while exercising to prevent friction. If the disc is displaced, the inner gel of the disc will go into the surrounding tissue and compress the nerve. This will cause numbness, weakness or pain that radiates to the base of the skull. Disc herniation can be alleviated by many methods and most patients with herniated discs do not require surgery.

4.Sleeping Position

You already know this especially after you wake up in the morning and you realize that a lot of places in your body hurts. When your sleeping position is not too comfortable, you can already expect that you will be aching in different places. One of the places that may hurt is at the base of your skull.

If you want to reduce the chances of getting a stiff neck, make sure that your neck is properly elevated. Otherwise, this may hurt your neck, head, and your back. If you would continue with your usual sleeping position, you can expect that the pain will turn chronic.

5.Excessive Muscle Tension

Sometimes you may stay in front of your computer all day, and you may feel that your shoulders and neck will start to hurt.

Tension headaches are usually caused by excessive muscle tension in the neck, upper shoulders or scalp. The poor posture and sustained stress will cause pressure, tightness or dull pain at the back of the head and neck.

This pain is also called stress headaches because it often feels like something is squeezing the skull. Pisodic tension headaches usually last from some minutes to several days. And chronic tension headaches may last a longer period of time.

In addition to poor posture, tension headaches can also come from lack of rest, anxiety, fatigue, tight jaws, depression, dehydration, muscle weakness or mental stress.

To reduce the possibility of getting this condition, you need to pay attention to your posture. Try to stretch and move around When you have a chance to rest. If the pain lasts for a long time, you need to see a doctor. Your doctor may recommend painkillers or muscle relaxants to get rid of tension headaches.

Read: How to Treat a Pulled Muscle in Shoulder at Home


There are times when your bones begin to deteriorate probably because of the lack of calcium and other nutrition that you are getting from the type of food that you are eating.

This is one condition that is more common in the elderly rather than in young people. Usually, those who are over 50 become afflicted with this condition more. When the bones become weak and brittle, this can become a problem. This can affect the base of the skull and can cause headaches.


When you feel pain or a headache in the cervical region of the spine, it may be caused by a base of skull tumors. The tumors that can be found here are usually not malignant. As they grow, they will compress the nerves around the neck and cause a headache. Do not ignore the tumors at the base of the skull, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.

8.Long Hours of Sitting

There are some people who are known to spend a lot of time in front of their computers. There are also some who do not need to work anymore and they do nothing but stay in front of their television sets.

They do not want to exercise or move around anymore. The sedentary lifestyle that they have may affect their body. The strain that will be placed on the base of the skull and the neck will be evident.

Usually, those who have this type of lifestyle would experience headaches at the base of the skull more often than those who have a healthier and more active lifestyle.

9.Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia, also known as the occipital nerve, is a common cause of pain at the base of the skull. This is a condition of the inflammation or injury of the nerves of the spinal cord and scalp. It will cause pain in the back of your head. This pain is usually sharp like electric shock at the base of the head and neck.

You may also feel pain in the eyes or throbbing pain that radiate to the scalp. Other symptoms include pain behind the eye sensitivity to light, tender scalp and pain when you move your head.

To relieve your pain from occipital neuralgia, you can apply heat to your neck or massage the painful neck muscles gently. If this doesn’t work, you need to see a doctor. The doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, nerve blocks or steroid pills to get rid of this problem.

10.Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can cause uncomfortable feelings such as pain, tingling or numbness at the base of the skull. Sometimes, this pain can also radiate into your arms, shoulders, or back.

A pinched nerve usually occurs when the nerves are placed under excessive pressure. This will irritate or damage the surrounding nerve. Back pain or a neck injury is also related to the pinched nerve.

11.A stiff neck

A stiff neck refers to it’s difficult or painful to move your neck. This condition can be caused by stiff muscles, damaged nerves or vertebrae. According to Neurologist Dr. Cordia Wan, a stiff neck along with a severe headache could also be a symptom of meningitis. You may also suffer from fever, tingling, fatigue or a rash. This is an emergency disease, you should see your doctor immediately.


This condition is the inflammation of the meninges around your brain and spinal cord. It is usually caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause this problem.

Common symptoms of meningitis include a headache, fever, stiff neck and pain at the base of the skull. In addition to these symptoms, if you have fever and vomiting, you should see a doctor immediately.

13.Cervical Myelopathy

Cervical myelopathy occurs when the cervical spinal cord is compressed. This can cause pain and numbness in your neck, hands, arms, and feet.

14.Lack of magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral in our body’s function. Magnesium deficiency usually causes twitches, muscle tension, cramps, soreness and neck pain. Some health problems such as diabetes, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and celiac disease can cause loss of magnesium.

So how to get enough magnesium? There are many foods rich in magnesium that should be eaten more. These foods include sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cashews, oats, hazelnuts and green leafy vegetables.

How to Get Rid of Headaches at the Base of the Skull

How to Get Rid of Headaches at the Base of the Skull

If you would like to lessen your chances of getting headaches at the base of your skull then you may want to change your lifestyle a bit. There are some things that you can do so that you can prevent your headaches such as the following:

1.Consume more fish oil

If you love eating healthy types of fish then you will have no problems about getting the amount of fish oil that you need in order to stay healthy. If you take in more Omega 3 Fatty Acids, you will be reducing the chances of acquiring headaches.

2. Consume ginger

Do you know that ginger is one of the home remedies that people have always used in order to prevent headaches? This is because of Thromboxane A2 that can be found in ginger. This can help dilute the blood vessels and can make sure that lesser headaches will be felt.

3.Reduce your intake of coffee

Do you love drinking coffee? Perhaps you would like to drink caffeinated beverages because you feel that you can work better with caffeine but if you are experiencing more headaches, this may be due to drinking too much caffeine. Also, if you are already encountering a headache and you would take caffeine, this may worsen the condition that you are in.

4.Have a better posture

You need to remember that your posture can affect not only your neck and back but also the base of your skull. If you do not want to have base skull headaches, you need to make sure that you will improve on your posture. Try to keep your shoulders straight, chest out and stomach in. This type of posture can make a huge difference.

5.Take supplements

One of the minerals that you need to take that can help prevent the onset of headaches is magnesium. If you take supplements that contain magnesium then you can stop yourself from getting a headache.

If in case you have already done the above-mentioned things but you still experienced having headaches then you need to seek proper treatments depending on your condition. You need to have yourself thoroughly checked by your doctor.

6. Muscle Relaxants

If the pain that you are experiencing on your neck and the base of your skull is caused by strained muscles, you may be prescribed to take muscle relaxants in order to reduce the strain. There are safe and effective drugs that will be prescribed to you by your doctor.

Read: 15 Easy Exercises and Stretches For Lower Back Pain Relief

7.Neck Brace

You know that some people who have gotten into accidents sometimes need to wear something around their necks that can prevent their necks from getting into positions that may worsen their condition. This can be removed once the area has already healed.

8.Neck Traction

This is different from a neck brace. What this does is it supports the muscles and the ligaments that are being strained. This will eventually help get rid of the pressure being felt on the nerves.

For some serious cases, surgeries are needed especially if the condition cannot be cured by different medications and treatments anymore. Leading a healthier lifestyle will always decrease your chances of getting a headache. Live a healthier lifestyle now and you will not have any regrets.

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