Pain at the base of the skull (2023)

Persistent pain at the base of the skull indicates a herniated disc or arthritis in the neck. Poor posture and damage to the occipital nerve that runs through the neck area can also cause pain at the base of the skull.

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Injuries, frequent strains caused by overloading the neck muscles, and poor sitting or lying position are some of the most common factors that cause skull base pain.
Pain at the base of the skull is often associated with damage to the nerve that runs through this area. The discomfort can even extend to the shoulder area and interfere with normal neck and shoulder movement. Pain causes headaches and makes the scalp very sensitive. Even combing the area, especially at the back of the skull, can cause excruciating pain.


The radiating pain can make the neck muscles stiff, and the discomfort can spread to the shoulders. Not surprisingly, patients suffering from cranial base pain also reported shoulder weakness. If the pain is severe, it is obvious that the neck is unable to bear the weight of the head and in this situation the patient walks with the neck bent to the left or right.


neck problems

Neck problems, such as a herniated disc, can cause pain at the base of the skull. Neck pain caused by a whiplash injury or arthritis can also cause moderate to severe discomfort at the base of the skull. Some of the neck conditions that can cause this type of discomfort at the base of the skull are detailed below:


The cervical spine, which forms the neck and part of the base of the skull, is made up of 7 bones stacked on top of each other. As we all know, the spine covers the spinal cord (a bundle of nerves coming out of the brain). Between each pair of bones in the cervical spine is a tough, flexible circular tissue commonly known as an intervertebral disc. These "discs" are important in preventing friction between bones and absorbing shock when jumping or running. A person is diagnosed with a herniated disc when the disc slips out of its original position. This may compress part of the nerve that runs near this disc. The pinched part of the nerve causes pain that can reach the base of the skull.

neck arthritis

This condition causes arthritis in the neck area. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joint tissues. The joint is considered the point of contact between two different bones. The ends of the bones have a tough, flexible tissue called cartilage that prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. In this condition, the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, leading to a significant loss of cartilage, ultimately leading to bone loss and joint deformity. This deformity of the neck joints can cause neck pain at the base of the skull.


Trauma, such as an accident or trauma to the neck area, can lead to muscle strain. Soft tissues in the neck, such as ligaments and tendons, can also be damaged, leading to a sprain. This pain probably travels to the base of the skull and causes further discomfort.

repetitive stress

The neck muscles are connected near the base of the skull. The muscles of the neck support the head, which weighs between 1.5 and 2 kg. Frequent head movements followed by insufficient rest can place excessive stress on these neck muscles due to excessive tension. This overuse of the neck muscles can cause pain at the base of the skull.

occipital neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia causes a sharp pain at the base of the skull that travels up and affects the back of the skull. The spinal cord is nothing more than a bundle of nerves (carrying signals from the brain) that come from the base of the skull and descend to the lower back. Nerves also branch from the spinal cord and travel to different parts of the body. The occipital nerve is the term used to describe the two nerves from the spinal cord that branch from the neck area of ​​the spinal cord and pass through the back of the head, finally ending at the scalp. These nerves provide sensation to the scalp. When these occipital nerves are put under undue pressure due to neck problems such as a herniated disc or become damaged and inflamed in an accident, the condition is called occipital neuralgia. This condition bringsoccipital headacheand the most common symptom of this type of headache is pain at the base of the skull. Damage to the occipital nerve leads to frequent headache attacks, which usually cause pain in the back of the head. The nerve compression associated with occipital neuralgia causes pain similar to pins and needles.

Skull base tumors

When a lump forms at the base of the skull, the most likely result is discomfort in the area. A tumor that develops rarely becomes malignant and can occur anywhere in the middle, anterior, and posterior areas of the base of the skull. Although in most cases they are benign tumors, surgical removal is very important to relieve pain.

The problem with the occipital bot

Occipital osteoporosis can also cause neck pain that can occur from the back of the head to the base of the skull. The occipital bone is located at the back of the skull. This curved bone extends from the back of the head to the base of the skull. Osteoporosis is a condition generally characterized by bone weakness. Bones become so weak that the vibrations caused by coughing can cause fractures and eventually lead to pain. Osteoporosis is common in people over 50 years of age.

bad neck posture

Sitting or standing for a long time in a position that places excessive strain on the neck can cause this type of pain. Leaning your head forward 2 to 3 inches will add about 30 pounds to your neck. Therefore, reading a book, watching TV, sitting in front of a computer or talking on the phone with your head tilted forward can tire the muscles connected to the occipital bone and ultimately lead to pain in the neck at the base of the skull.

wrong sleeping position

Insufficient sleep can also put too much strain on the neck muscles, causing neck pain that is most noticeable at the base of the skull. Incorrect sleeping positions often lead to a stiff neck and discomfort at the base of the skull. The use of viscoelastic pillows and preferably sleeping on the back provides comfort and reduces pressure on the neck. If you sleep on your side, make sure you have a supportive pillow that will comfortably elevate your neck. People with sleep disorders are also more likely to experience musculoskeletal pain. Not surprisingly, those who have trouble falling asleep often suffer from chronic neck problems that manifest as pain at the base of the skull.

Sedentary lifestyle

Spending endless hours in front of a computer in an uncomfortable position, such as a hunched back, can also put a lot of strain on your neck and back muscles. It can also lead to neck pain at the base of the skull. We spend most of the day in the office, leaving little time for exercise. This type of sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain, which causes long-term neck pain.



Rheumatoid arthritis is usually treated with painkillers such as corticosteroids to control joint inflammation. Anti-rheumatic and immunosuppressant medications may also be prescribed to prevent arthritis from getting worse. Ice massage or injections at the site of pain can also help reduce occipital headaches.

muscle relaxants

Neck muscle pain can also be treated with muscle relaxants such as diazepam. Often, muscle trauma causes repeated muscle spasms, and in these cases, muscle relaxants are often prescribed to calm them down. It is one of the safest and, above all, effective painkillers, thanks to which it provides quick relief from muscle pain. Another option to reduce neck pain is to use anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce not only pain but also swelling.

neck traction

Neck traction has been used for years to treat pain associated with pinched nerves or neck stiffness. Traction puts strain on the neck, which in turn stretches muscles and ligaments. The stretching force exerted by the traction relaxes the muscles and reduces the pressure on the pinched nerve.

chiropractic treatment

Chiropractic treatment for neck painIt is based on the principle that a misaligned spine (a pile of hollow bones running from the base of the skull to the pelvis) is the main cause of neck or back pain. In this method, the chiropractor (doctor) often repeats pressure on the spine area with his hands in an attempt to equalize it. This method is called spinal manipulation and allows the joints to be slightly moved out of their normal position. This manual movement of the joints and muscles, usually accompanied by a click, helps relieve back and neck pain.


The key to building muscle is physical activity. So get rid of your sedentary lifestyle and follow your exercise routine religiously to the point where your body requires it. Some neck exercises can also be helpful in improving muscle strength and reducing muscle stiffness. Exercises such as moving your head in a slow circular motion can improve mobility and prepare your neck muscles for normal activity.


Occipital neuralgia is usually treated with medications that reduce nerve inflammation. If there is no improvement, surgery can be performed to relieve pressure on the nerve by severing the protruding part of the intervertebral disc.


The information contained in this article is for the information of the reader only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.

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