Headache Behind Eyes and Base of Skull: Causes and Relief

If you’ve ever experienced a headache behind your eyes or at the base of your skull, you know just how debilitating it can be. But what causes these types of headaches and how can you find relief? In this blog, we will dive into the world of occipital neuralgia and explore its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. From understanding the difference between a headache or migraine versus occipital neuralgia to learning about common triggers and how to manage the pain, we’ve got you covered. So if you’re tired of living with these painful headaches, keep reading to find out how you can finally get some relief.


What causes occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia can occur due to various factors, including irritation or injury to the occipital nerves. Neck tension, trauma, nerve compression, and certain medical conditions like osteoarthritis or diabetes can contribute to this condition. Treatment options for occipital neuralgia may involve medications, nerve blocks, physiotherapy, and relaxation techniques.

What are the most common occipital neuralgia symptoms?

Occipital neuralgia is typically characterized by a sharp, shooting pain in the back of the head or base of the skull. Additional symptoms may include pain behind the eyes, sensitivity to light, and tenderness in the scalp or neck. Some individuals may also experience numbness or tingling in the scalp or face. It is crucial to seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.



Occipital neuralgia is characterized by severe pain originating at the base of the skull, radiating to the back of the head and behind the eyes. The pain, often described as sharp, shooting, or throbbing, can also affect the scalp. In addition to the pain, individuals may experience sensitivity to light, touch, or pressure on the scalp, along with tenderness in the affected area. Activities like bending over or turning the head can worsen the pain, making it essential to explore various treatment options. These may include medications for pain relief and inflammation, physiotherapy exercises, nerve blocks, and even surgical interventions if necessary.


Individuals with occipital neuralgia often experience sensitivity to light and sound, along with scalp tenderness or sensitivity. This sensitivity is typically felt behind the eyes and at the base of the skull. Throbbing or pulsating headaches are commonly associated with this. Neck pain, pain with movement, and numbness or tingling in the scalp are also possible symptoms. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


How can I tell the difference between a headache or migraine vs. occipital neuralgia?

Differentiating between headaches or migraines and occipital neuralgia can be done based on the type of pain experienced. Headaches and migraines usually have throbbing or pulsating pain, while occipital neuralgia is characterized by a sharp, shooting pain. Associated symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are more common with headaches and migraines. Trigger factors such as stress, lack of sleep, or certain foods are often responsible for headaches and migraines, whereas occipital neuralgia stems from irritation or inflammation of the occipital nerves. Consulting a healthcare professional will provide an accurate diagnosis if unsure about the type of headache being experienced.

How do you treat occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is typically treated with a combination of medication and physiotherapy. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used for mild cases, while prescription medications and physiotherapy techniques like exercises and posture correction are recommended for more severe cases to alleviate symptoms and prevent future episodes.

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Congratulations! You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter, where we provide valuable insights and information on managing different types of headaches. Explore effective treatment options, such as medication, physiotherapy, and lifestyle changes, to alleviate the symptoms of tension headaches, migraines, and even occipital neuralgia. Stay up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in headache relief. Our expert team of neurologists and pain specialists will guide you through various topics, including symptoms of occipital neuralgia, possible causes, and pain management techniques. Don’t miss out on our newsletters packed with helpful tips tailored to your headache needs.

About the Author: Pain Doctor

The author of this blog post, a pain doctor specializing in headaches and pain management, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. With expertise in treating various headache types, including tension headaches, migraines, and occipital neuralgia, they offer valuable insights and tips for finding relief. Whether it’s addressing scalp tenderness, nausea, or severe pain behind the eyes and at the base of the skull, the pain doctor explores different treatment options, from over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to physiotherapy techniques. By discussing possible causes and effective pain relief strategies, the author guides readers towards understanding their symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment options. Through their expertise, readers can find ways to manage and alleviate headaches.

Related Posts

Headaches behind the eyes and at the base of the skull can be caused by various factors, including tension, sinus issues, eye strain, or migraines. These types of headaches, often referred to as tension headaches or migraines, can cause intense pain and discomfort in the affected area. They may be accompanied by symptoms such as scalp tenderness, nausea, vomiting, or even numbness. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the headache in order to effectively treat it. Common relief measures for headaches include rest, applying a cold or warm compress, practicing relaxation techniques, staying hydrated, avoiding triggers such as certain foods or activities, and taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen. If headaches persist or worsen, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a neurologist or a pain doctor, for further evaluation and treatment options. They may recommend physiotherapy, medication, injections, or other forms of pain relief depending on the severity of the headache and its underlying cause. Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining good posture, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, may also help prevent these types of headaches. Remember to always prioritize your health and seek appropriate medical advice when dealing with persistent or severe headaches.

1. Tension headache

Tension headaches, a prevalent type of headache, can cause pain behind the eyes and at the base of the skull. These headaches are commonly triggered by stress, muscle tension, poor posture, or other factors such as fatigue or eye strain. To alleviate tension headaches, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can be beneficial. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can offer temporary relief. Applying a cold or warm compress to the affected area, practicing good posture, and avoiding triggers like caffeine or certain foods may also help alleviate symptoms. If tension headaches persist or worsen, it is crucial to consult a medical professional to rule out any underlying conditions and explore further treatment options.

2. Occipital neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia, a condition characterized by severe shooting pain in the back of the head and neck, is caused by the irritation or inflammation of the occipital nerves. These nerves, running from the base of the skull to the scalp, can be affected by various factors such as injury, compression, arthritis, or diabetes. To alleviate the symptoms of occipital neuralgia, treatments like medication, physiotherapy, and nerve blocks are recommended. Consulting a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan is crucial for individuals experiencing the intense pain associated with occipital neuralgia.

3. Herniated cervical discs

Herniated cervical discs can be a common cause of headaches behind the eyes and at the base of the skull. Also referred to as ruptured discs in the neck, this condition can exert pressure on the surrounding nerves, leading to pain and discomfort. Apart from headaches, individuals with herniated cervical discs may also experience symptoms such as neck pain, arm pain, and numbness or tingling in the arms or hands. Treatment options for this condition can involve physiotherapy, medication, or even surgical intervention. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is crucial for obtaining an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan tailored to alleviate the symptoms caused by herniated cervical discs.

4. Medication overuse

Medication overuse can lead to rebound headaches, where the headache returns as soon as the medication wears off. These headaches, known as medication overuse headaches, are often characterized by a throbbing pain that can be felt on one or both sides of the head. They can be caused by a variety of common medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription migraine medications, and combination analgesics. It is crucial to follow the recommended dosage guidelines for any pain medication and not exceed the prescribed daily limit. To find relief from medication overuse headaches, it is often necessary to gradually reduce or stop using the offending medications under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Additionally, non-medication approaches, such as relaxation techniques, stress management, and lifestyle changes, can also aid in managing these types of headaches.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of headaches behind the eyes and at the base of the skull?

Common causes of headaches behind the eyes and at the base of the skull include tension headaches, migraines, eye strain or eye-related issues (such as astigmatism or dry eyes), sinusitis, sinus congestion, poor posture, and neck tension. These factors can contribute to pain in these specific areas.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

To find physiotherapy near you, utilize online directories or search engines like Healthgrades or Zocdoc. Seek recommendations from your primary care physician or loved ones. Contact local hospitals or clinics that may have physiotherapy departments.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

You can find sports massage near you by searching online directories or review websites, asking for recommendations from friends or fitness professionals, contacting local spas or wellness centers, or using location-based search engines or apps.


Occipital neuralgia can cause intense pain and discomfort, particularly behind the eyes and at the base of the skull. The symptoms can be debilitating and affect your daily life. It is important to understand the causes and seek appropriate relief for occipital neuralgia. If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain, sensitivity, balance issues, or referred pain in these areas, it may be worth exploring whether occipital neuralgia is the underlying cause. Treatment options range from conservative measures such as rest, heat therapy, and physiotherapy to more invasive interventions like nerve blocks or surgical procedures. To learn more about occipital neuralgia symptoms, causes, and treatment options, subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates from Pain Doctor and check out our related posts for additional information.

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