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The human brain is an incredibly complex organ, which means discomfort in this area of your body can be difficult to understand. There are many different types of headaches which could be a response to internal or external factors. These can occur in different areas of the cranium itself, but one of the most common is a headache on top of your head.

This kind can feel like a massive weight pushing down on your crown, and we all know that a headache on top of head isn’t a fun sensation at all.

First, let’s understand the causes, the types associated, the actual headache locations and how to treat them.

What Causes A Headache On Top Of Your Head?

As mentioned above, there are many different reasons, physical and environmental.

There are also a number of medical conditions and environmental triggers that can lead to one of these painful headaches.

Here are some of the most common kinds of soreness that can be felt in this area:


This kind of pain is one of the most common and can feel like constant pressure or aching, or like the muscles around your head are pulling into a tight band.

You might also feel associated discomfort in your neck, the back of your head, and in your temples. It doesn’t throb and doesn’t feel as intense as a tension migraine though.

Tension headaches usually result from stress and tightness in certain muscle groups, namely the suboccipital muscles and the splenius cervicis and splenius capitis muscles. As muscles don’t work in isolation, pain is usually the result of multiple muscles tensing up.

Here is a brief explanation below:

  • The suboccipital muscles are connected to the first and second vertebrae and can become tense due to grinding your teeth, straining your eyes or by having poor posture
  • The splenius cervicis and splenius capitis muscles in your neck can also become stiff, causing tension in this region


If you’re a migraine sufferer, you’ll already know that as opposed to the average headache on top of the head, migraines can be defined as a throbbing headache on top of the head, and can be felt on either side of your face too.

Migraines can also fall under the categories of a ‘headache on top right side of the head’, or a ‘headache on top left side of the head’.

They also come with a number of other symptoms, like nausea, cold hands, seeing auras and being very sensitive to sound and light. So much so that you’ll usually feel the need to be in a dark and quiet room.

In short, a migraine differs in terms of severity and accompanying symptoms.

Physical exhaustion

This kind of pain, as the name suggests, comes from not getting enough rest, and can feel like a dull ache or pressure. This can happen from lack of sleep, as well as from intense bursts of exercise that your brain might not be prepared for.

When it comes to sleeping, your posture is also very important. This is because poor sleeping posture can also lead to a hypnic headache on top of your head, which comes from the spinal position being compromised.


Otherwise known as a brain freeze. This kind of discomfort usually only lasts a few seconds but can be a very uncomfortable headache on top of the head.


Blocked sinuses can also trigger tension which leads to painful symptoms. This is due to inflammation which can be easily treated by medication or relieving the sinus blockage in non-harmful ways.

Occipital Neuralgia

This kind of pain occurs when the occipital nerve is compressed, damaged or irritated. This nerve runs from your spine to your scalp.

When this nerve is compromised, you will feel it in the back of your skull as well as that tight band feeling.

Other symptoms like waves of electric shock pain and a dull aching can also be felt, which can all worsen when you start moving around.

Medical emergencies

Although rare, certain kinds of soreness in the cranial area are very serious and might require a trip to the emergency room.

Just two of the most intense of these are:

1. Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCV’s)

This kind of headache on top of head occurs when blood vessels in the brain become constricted, which results in an intense form of pain called a thunderclap.

In severe cases, this can lead to strokes or bleeding in the brain, as well as intense weakness, seizures, and blurry vision.

2. Hypertension pain

Hypertension pain results from pressure building up in the cranium due to high blood pressure, which leads to a distinctive pulling feeling at the top of your head.

Other symptoms include noises, intense agony, disorientation, short breathing, and unclear vision.

How Do You Treat A Headache On Top Of Head?

Apart from just taking medication, there are many ways to treat a headache on top of your head.

Some of the most popular ways include:

Over the counter (OTC) medication

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For tension pain and migraines, it’s possible to get quick relief with medication such as above. Be aware of combining different kinds of medication though, as it could lead to an overdose or other side effects.

Be aware that taking too much medication could even lead to another headache!

Awareness of muscle tension

If it is muscle tightness that is causing you a headache on top of the head, getting enough rest, reducing your stress levels and maintaining good posture can all help. This applies both to when you’re awake and when you’re asleep.

If you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk, an ergonomic chair can be very helpful. As is seeking treatment from a practitioner like a chiropractor, massage therapist or acupuncturist.

How to Get Relief

Overall relaxation and stress-relief strategies like breathing exercises, yoga and meditation could also be beneficial in relieving hurt associated with stress and tension.

Lifestyle choices

While some soreness can be due to factors outside of our control, it can also be a sign that you’re not in optimum health.

Taking measures to improve your overall well being can definitely help to relieve tension, especially if it becomes a chronic condition.

It’s worth consulting a doctor if you continue to suffer terribly, as they will be able to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. This may include medication and making some lifestyle changes, which could include your diet.


If your discomfort is due to muscle tension, you can consult a variety of resources online and do a self-massage. This involves releasing tension in your neck and shoulder region with your hands.

You could even include some natural remedies too. This can go a long way to relieving chronic malaise when seeing a medical professional isn’t absolutely necessary.

Regular healthcare checkups

If you have any kind of hereditary predisposition that might compromise your cardiovascular functioning, it’s best to go for regular check-ups with a medical professional to avoid any kind of complications.

If you take the necessary steps to ensure optimum health, there is no reason why you should suffer from any kind of unexplained agony.

What To Do In An Emergency

As we mentioned above, there are certain kinds of pain that you don’t want to leave untreated.

If you feel any of the symptoms below, it’s important to consult a doctor immediately:

  • changing patterns of discomfort and things getting worse
  • pain that stops you from doing normal daily activities
  • pain that doesn’t go away with medication

On the other hand, if you feel any of the following symptoms, be sure to head to the emergency room immediately:

  • debilitating discomfort
  • confusion to the point where you don’t know what’s going on
  • loss of motor control in your body (i.e. paralysis)
  • problems with vision
  • problems with speaking
  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • loss of balance
  • fainting
  • seizures
  • stiff neck muscles with a fever


Understanding how and why headaches occur is an important part of being able to treat them, and perhaps even stop them from happening at all.

If you have chronic discomfort with a headache on top of your head, it’s important to seek treatment so that you can not only feel relief but also be sure that there isn’t an underlying problem or more serious medical issue that isn’t being addressed.

As you start to understand your cranial anatomy better and become more aware of your particular triggers, you’ll start to notice patterns and know how to avoid recurring agony, especially with the help of a licensed medical professional.

If you choose to be proactive, just having this kind of awareness can help you prevent more discomfort in the future. Similarly, you can even help those around you to treat and avoid it too.

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