Migraine at Base of Skull: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Do you often experience neck pain that radiates to the base of your skull, accompanied by pounding headaches? If so, you may be suffering from migraines at the base of your skull. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this specific type of headache. We will also explore the connection between neck pain and headaches, discussing various types of headaches that can be caused by neck pain. Additionally, we will provide helpful tips to relieve headaches stemming from neck pain. Whether you’re seeking answers or looking for ways to alleviate your discomfort, this blog post has got you covered. Get ready to discover valuable insights about migraines at the base of your skull and how to find relief.


Why Does My Neck Pain Cause Headaches?

Neck pain can trigger headaches due to muscle tension and compressed nerves. Tight or strained neck muscles can cause referred pain in the head, while nerve compression in the neck can lead to radiating pain and headaches. Treating the underlying neck problem, like through physiotherapy or chiropractic care, can provide relief from headaches.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain can stem from different causes, such as muscle strain or tension. Poor posture and prolonged periods of sitting or standing can contribute to neck pain. Injuries like whiplash or herniated discs can also be culprits. Certain medical conditions, like arthritis or degenerative disc disease, can lead to chronic neck pain.

How Headaches and Neck Pain Are Related

The connection between headaches and neck pain is significant. Tension at the base of the skull often triggers migraines, and tight or strained neck muscles can result in pain radiating to the head. Factors like poor posture, stress, and muscle imbalances contribute to neck pain, ultimately leading to headaches. Conditions such as whiplash or cervical spine disorders further exacerbate neck pain and its associated headaches. Effective treatments for these headaches include physiotherapy, relaxation techniques, medication, and lifestyle adjustments.

Types of Headaches Caused by Neck Pain

Neck pain can lead to various types of headaches, including tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, migraines, and occipital neuralgia. Tension headaches are the most common and often feel like a tight band around the head. Cervicogenic headaches, which originate from the neck, can cause pain in the base of the skull. Migraines, typically associated with throbbing pain on one side of the head, can also cause pain at the base of the skull due to neck muscle tension. Occipital neuralgia causes severe pain at the base of the skull when the occipital nerves become inflamed or compressed.


Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headaches, derived from the neck or cervical spine, can result from muscle tension, joint dysfunction, or nerve compression. Symptoms include pain at the base of the skull, in the forehead/temples, and stiffness in the neck. Treatment addresses these symptoms through physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, and medication for pain and inflammation relief. By targeting the source of the pain, cervicogenic headaches can be effectively managed.

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is a specific type of headache that occurs due to irritation or injury to the occipital nerves. These nerves run from the base of the skull up to the scalp, causing intense pain that can radiate to the back of the head, behind the eyes, and into the scalp. Occipital neuralgia symptoms include sharp, shooting pain, sensitivity, and tenderness in the scalp. Trauma, compression, such as whiplash injuries or muscle tension in the neck, can lead to occipital neuralgia.

Types of Headaches That Can Cause Neck Pain

Types of Headaches That Can Cause Neck Pain:

Neck pain can be accompanied by various types of headaches, including throbbing migraines. One common type is tension headaches, which can cause pain in the scalp and base of the skull. Another type is cervicogenic headaches, originating from issues in the neck and radiating pain to the sides of the head. Additional types include cluster headaches, migraines with aura, and sinus headaches causing neck pain. Identifying the precise type of headache is crucial for effective pain relief and treatment options like massage therapy, acupuncture, or medication.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches, a common type of headache, can cause neck pain. These throbbing headaches often feel like a tight band around the head and are typically described as a dull, aching pain. Stress, muscle tension in the neck and scalp, poor posture, and eye strain can all contribute to tension headaches. Treatment options for tension headaches may include over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, relaxation techniques, stress management, and improving posture. If tension headaches persist or worsen, it is important to consult a healthcare professional, like an MD, for further evaluation and treatment options.


Migraines, a common type of headache, cause intense pain in various areas of the head. They present with throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head, extending to the base of the skull and neck. Additional symptoms include sensitivity to light and sound, along with nausea and vomiting. The cause of migraines is uncertain, although it is believed to involve changes in brain chemistry and blood vessels. Treatment options include medication for pain relief and prevention, along with lifestyle adjustments like stress management.

Tips to Relieve Headaches From Neck Pain

To alleviate the throbbing pain associated with migraines at the base of the skull, it is crucial to find effective pain relief strategies. One essential step is to identify and treat the underlying cause of the pain. By addressing the root cause of the neck pain, whether it be muscle tension, poor posture, or whiplash, you can take steps towards long-term relief. Maintaining proper posture and ergonomics can greatly reduce strain on the neck muscles, helping to prevent the onset of headaches. Applying heat or cold therapy to the affected area can provide relief from inflammation and pain. Incorporating regular exercise and targeted stretches into your routine can help strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches. Alternative therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractic adjustments have also shown promising results in relieving headache pain. Additionally, over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or consultation with a healthcare professional for prescribed medication options can provide temporary relief from migraines. By following these tips, you can take control of your headache pain and improve your quality of life.

Symptoms of Migraine Headache

Common symptoms of migraine headaches include throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances such as aura or flashing lights, neck pain or stiffness, and fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Migraines can also cause scalp tenderness and may be triggered by various factors including stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, or environmental factors. If you experience migraines, it is essential to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment options.

Comparison of Migraine Headache With Similar Headaches

When comparing migraine headaches with similar types of headaches, it’s important to understand the differences in symptoms and triggers. Migraines are characterized by throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances such as aura or flashing lights, neck pain or stiffness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Tension headaches, on the other hand, typically cause a dull, aching pain that can be felt on both sides of the head and may be accompanied by muscle tightness in the scalp and neck. Cluster headaches are intense, one-sided headaches that often occur in clusters or patterns and are associated with severe pain around the eye. It’s important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment for these different types of headaches to effectively manage symptoms and find relief.

Treatment of Migraine Headaches

Effective Treatment Options for Migraine Headaches:

When it comes to finding relief for migraine headaches, there are numerous treatment options available. From over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription medications, including triptans and ergots, different approaches can be effective in managing the pain. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as stress management, regular exercise, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule may help prevent migraines from occurring. Alternative therapies like acupuncture or biofeedback can also provide relief for individuals experiencing migraine headaches. In certain severe cases, Botox injections or nerve blocks might be recommended to minimize the frequency and intensity of migraines. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for developing the best treatment plan for your specific symptoms.

What Is Cervicogenic Headache?

Cervicogenic headache is a type of headache that stems from the neck or cervical spine. It can be caused by factors like neck arthritis, whiplash injuries, or muscle tension in the neck. Symptoms include pain at the base of the skull, neck pain, and pain spreading to the forehead or behind the eyes. Treatment options may involve physiotherapy, medication, nerve blocks, or chiropractic adjustments.

Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms

Cervicogenic headaches are characterized by throbbing pain at the base of the skull, accompanied by neck pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. These headaches, caused by underlying issues in the neck or cervical spine such as osteoarthritis or whiplash injuries, can be addressed through physiotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Seeking medical attention is crucial for a proper diagnosis and effective treatment. Other secondary keyterms: migraine, headaches, scalp, massage, neuralgia, side of the head, pain relief, occipital neuralgia, occipital nerve, sides of the head, steroid, nausea, inflammation, tension headache, ibuprofen, cluster headaches, antidepressants, neck muscles, medical history, upper neck, massage therapy, back of the head, posture, vomiting, tightness, stiff neck, injection, cause of the pain, blood vessels, aura, type of headache, tension headaches, severe pain, neck pain, caffeine, acupuncture, tight neck muscles, nerve block, migraine medication, spinal stenosis, back pain, types of headaches, stiffness, physical activity, migraine headaches, headache pain, first step, electric shock, cervicogenic headaches, physical examination, chronic pain, symptoms of occipital neuralgia, spinal cord, compression, cervical spine, base of the head, poor posture, visual disturbances, vertebrae

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of migraines at the base of the skull?

Migraines at the base of the skull can be caused by tension headaches, cervical spine issues, stress, poor posture, sinus pressure, TMJ disorder, nerve compression in the neck, and various triggers like bright lights or certain foods. Consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

You can find physiotherapy clinics near you by searching online directories or search engines. Ask for recommendations from your doctor, friends, or family members who have undergone physiotherapy. Check with your insurance provider for in-network providers. Contact local hospitals or healthcare facilities to inquire about their physiotherapy services.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

You can find sports massage therapists near you by using online search engines or directories. Local gyms, sports centers, and athletic clubs may also have recommendations. Ask for referrals from friends or colleagues who have had sports massages, and check professional associations or organizations that specialize in sports massage for practitioner directories.


In conclusion, understanding the relationship between neck pain and headaches is crucial for effective treatment. Migraine headaches that originate from the base of the skull can be debilitating and impact your daily life. It’s important to identify the specific type of headache you’re experiencing, whether it’s a tension headache, cervicogenic headache, or migraines, as this will determine the appropriate treatment plan. If you’re suffering from migraines or other types of headaches caused by neck pain, consult with a healthcare professional to explore treatment options that can provide relief. Don’t let migraines control your life – take action today and seek the help you need.

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