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What does it mean if I have pain on top of the head?

Posted in Head Pain Disorders on Jun 01, 2020

What does it mean if I have pain on top of the head?

Is it a nerve or a muscle causing pain on top of my head?

Pain on top of the head is often referred pain, which means that the source of the problem is coming from somewhere else … and the most likely source is from your upper neck!

Pain on top of the head can be a strange symptom because there is no one specific nerve or muscle located there. Unless you’ve suffered a direct injury such as a concussion or fracture, then it isn’t likely a cracked skull either.

(Yes, it is still possible that pain on top of the head can mask a post-concussion syndrome, and it is even possible for pain on top of the head can mask a life-threatening problem. But fortunately, these types of problems are rare.)

 

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So based on probability, what is it most likely?

Pain on top of the skull is often the result of tension through the connective tissues (called myofascial) that anchor your skull to the rest of your body.

Imagine a series of tension cables that anchor all along the sides of your head and the base of your skull. These tension lines exist to help maintain the upright position of your head (3-5Kg) atop a flexible but relatively fragile neck.

The hallmark sign of pain on top of the head is caused by tension is that if feels absolutely delightful if you receive a scalp massage. 

Whether by a professional massage therapist, spouse or even doing it yourself, when you get your fingers through your scalp and give your head a deep rub, it feels so divine, and all the tension simply melts away!

… The catch is that as heavenly as a scalp massage may feel for relieving pain on top of the head, it may not actually resolve the underlying cause.

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To do that, you may need to look somewhere else.

 

A connection between your neck and pain on top of the head?

You may have heard a joking expression that “Sometimes, I swear my head would fall right off my shoulders if it wasn’t screwed on tight.”

Well, it’s not actually screwed on. It is actually held in place by the tension cables that we just mentioned!

Your skulls sit atop the C1 (or atlas) vertebra in your neck, which allows you to nod and turn your head. Unlike other vertebrae in your spine, the C1 does not actually have a disc to anchor it in place. Instead, it is suspended in place by muscles ligaments, and tension lines that anchor into your skull and C2 (or axis) vertebra.

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It’s an amazing arrangement, but also one that can have nasty consequences if it is ever disrupted.

 Imagine what might happen with these tension cables if you actually have a problem in your neck, especially if it involved your C1 vertebra.

Let’s say that you’ve suffered a head, neck, or whiplash injury, or that you have a repetitive stress job that causes you to lean your head forwards all the time. These movements may cause the center of gravity of your skull to shift!

No, these are not the types of injuries that will paralyze or kill you. However, they are certainly the kinds that can make your life less pleasant overall.

The result is increased tension through those connective tissues that anchor your neck to your skull. And when they start to pull, that may be the origin of the pain on the top of your head.

So pain on top of the head can mask neck vertebrae misalignment! Even if the shift is only 1-3mm, that may still be enough to produce significant problems.

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  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Neuralgia
  • Myofascial pain (including fibromyalgia)
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Even pain elsewhere in the body including low back pain and sciatica 

In brief, your neck discs and vertebrae most likely are affected when your top the head hurts on touch.And because your C1 may affect your brainstem, which is the master control center of your nerve system and which coordinates every single thing in your body, the list is potentially endless when you have an injury that affects the alignment of your C1 vertebra.

So especially if you experience one or more of these symptoms in addition to pain on the top of your head, the question I want to ask you is this: 

Do you just want to keep treating the symptoms or masking the problem with medication?

Or do you want to find out if a problem with the alignment of your C1 vertebra is actually the underlying cause … and then do something about it so that you can have a more natural, long term solution?

If so, here is where a unique form of healthcare known as “Blair upper cervical care” may be able to help you.

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Blair upper cervical care and pain on top of the head

Blair upper cervical care is a non-invasive approach to healing and wellbeing that focuses on the alignment of the top vertebrae in the neck: your C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis).

I am not surprised if you have not heard of “Blair” or “upper cervical care” before. At the time of writing this article, there are only 5 practitioners in all of Australia (… and only around 200 in the whole world!).

Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that has been developed and researched in the USA. Unlike typical spinal manipulation, there is no twisting, popping, or cracking with the Blair procedure. 

The major difference is that everything is customized for you. The way that Atlas Health Brisbane chiropractic can help eliminate pain on top of the head is by first performing a series of personalized physical, neurological, and diagnostic tests including upright 3D x-rays, which show the exact direction and degree of any misalignments in your neck.

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With this level of detail, we are able to create a treatment protocol designed specifically for you that helps to re-align those vertebrae and thereby allowing your body to do what it is designed to do: heal itself naturally. 

This is how pain on top of the head treated by Atlas Health Brisbane chiropractors. Rather than focusing on where the pain is, we focus on the underlying cause so that you may be able to experience a more long-term solution.

 

Blair upper cervical chiropractor Brisbane

Don’t wait for the pain on top of head to degenerate into a worse condition … have it checked by a Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic doctors.

Atlas Health is the premier upper cervical health center for Brisbane. We believe in the innate potential for every human being to be well and to live an extraordinary life. Our mission is to help people find long term solutions for chronic and challenging health problems so that they can enjoy the quality of life that they desire most. 

Our practice is located in North Lakes to serve both the greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast communities.

Our principal chiropractic doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified Blair practitioner. He is a Board member of the Blair Chiropractic Society (Intl), lecturer, author, and recognized leader in the field of upper cervical chiropractic care.

If you would like to find out how we may be able to help your pain on top of head treated by upper cervical chiropractic, we would love to hear from you.

We are happy to offer a 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Hannah where you can discuss your condition and ask any questions so that you can decide if Blair's upper cervical care may be right for you.

This is a complimentary, no-obligation consultation. If you would like to schedule a time to speak with Dr. Hannah, you can contact our office directly at 07 3188 9329

Alternatively, you can reach us through the Contact Us

We look forward to hearing from you, and we will do the best we can to assist you.

Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”

 

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Bragatto MM, Bevilaqua-Grossi D, Benatto MT, et al. Is the presence of neck pain associated with more severe clinical presentation in patients with migraines? A cross-sectional study. Cephalalgia. 2019 May 27:333102419854061. doi: 10.1177/0333102419854061. [Epub ahead of print]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31132869 

Edmonds J. The cervical spine and headache. Neurology, 1988;38(12):1874-8.

Gaul C, Meßlinger K, Holle-Lee D, Neeb L. [Pathophysiology of Headaches]. [Article in German]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2017 Mar;142(6):402-408. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-111694. Epub 2017 Mar 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28329901 

Mingels S, Dankaerts W, Granitzer M. Is There Support for the Paradigm 'Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache'? A Comprehensive Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 4;23(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30830498

Millstine D, Chen CY, Bauer B. Complementary and integrative medicine in the management of headache. BMJ. 2017 May 16;357:j1805. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1805. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28512119 

Teng CC, Chai H, Lai DM, Wang SF. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility in young and middle-aged adults with or without a history of mild neck pain. Man Ther. 2007 Feb;12(1):22-8. Epub 2006 Jun 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16777468

Whittingham W, Ellis WB, Molyneux TP. The effect of manipulation (toggle recoil technique) for headaches with upper cervical joint dysfunction: a pilot study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1994;17(6):369-75.

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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