The main reason for headache at base of skull is the damage caused to the nerves passing through the neck. The pain may even reach the shoulder and in turn might disturb the functioning of neck and shoulders. Muscles in the neck become inflexible and firm due to the headache at base of the skull further resulting in stiff neck. It can even cause arm weakness and if the pain becomes severe then often the neck is unable to take the weight of the head and neck bends on either side. Below are few reasons –
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Causes of Headache at base of skull
- Neck problems :- Arthritis or neck injury may be the reason for causing pain at the base of the skull. Various injuries causing pain include –
- Slipped disc :- The bones of the neck and cervical spine are arranged on top of the other to protect the spinal cord from where the spinal nerves become visible. Between these bones there are cylindrical elastic tissues known as disc which acts as a cushion while running or jumping and prevent friction. Any compression of nerves creates a burning sensation radiating from the base of the skull.
- Neck arthritis :- An auto immunity disorder affecting the joints of the neck is known as Rheumatoid. This involves inflammation of elastic joint tissues known as cartilage which helps in avoiding the rubbing of bones against each other. Deterioration of cartilage causes inflammation, joint deformity and bone loss which causes headache at the base of the skull.
- Trauma :- Any injury around the neck area causes sprain in the soft tissues like tendons and ligaments around the neck. This sprain causes a bad headache at base of skull.
- Excessive strain :- The head weighs approximately by 1.5 to 2 kilograms. Any unnecessary frequent movement without adequate rest causes undue stress in the neck muscles and in turn may cause strain in that area. This strain causes headache at the base.
- Nerve problem :- A body has innumerable nerves which branch out from the spinal cord and spread to different parts. Any problem in the neck due to accident can cause nerve damage resulting in occipital neuralgia which makes it apparent for headache at the base of the skull.
- Base of skull tumors :- Non cancerous tumors generally develop in the front, middle and at the back part of the skull causing pain in this area.
- Bone problems :- Often bones become brittle, weak or prone to fracture which is referred as Osteoporosis. The pain triggers from back of the scalp and may extend up to the base of the skull. This problem is common among the people who have passed the age of 50 years.
- Poor posture :- Poor posture is also one of the common reason for headache at the base of the skull. Leaning with head forward while sitting or standing causes unnecessary burden to the neck muscles. Spending long hours in an improper posture especially while using computer, watching television, reading books, talking over the phone for hours can be tiring for the muscles in the neck and in turn can cause pain in the base of the skull.
- Sleeping position :- Improper sleeping position can strain the neck muscles and can cause stiffness in the neck. Try sleeping on your back to reduce the strain on your muscles. People facing sleep deprivation problem are bound to suffer chronic neck pains especially at the base of the skull.
- Sedentary lifestyle :- A person’s lifestyle can also be the reason of headache. Long hours of sitting in a particular position can cause excessive pressure on the back and strain the neck muscles. Even slouching or drooping can strain the neck and back muscles causing headache at base of skull.
Remedies of headache at the base of the skull
- Corticosteroids :- Corticosteroids are a type of medication given to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. These are meant to deal with inflammation at the joints and will also help in relieving pain temporarily.
- Muscle relaxants :- In case of muscle injuries, muscles tend to contract more often than the normal. To curb this a drug named Paracetamol (acetaminophen) can be used which is safe and quite effective.
- Exercises :- One of the best ways to get rid of headache at base of skull is to exercise the muscles in the affected area. Move your neck in circular motions to improve its mobility.
- Surgery :- Often physicians resort to surgeries to reduce pressure on the nerve when one finds no improvement by drug therapy.
Preventions for Headache at base of skull
- Avoid Monosodium Glutamate :- MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a well known food enhancers are often used to bring out best in foods and to make it delicious. MSG have chemical composition which might cause many side effects to people who are sensitive to chemicals. Such side effects include headache, vomiting, nausea and stomach infection. Avoid consuming MSG to keep yourself away from headache.
- Avoiding nitrates and amines :- Chocolates often contain amine compounds known as Phenylethylamine which triggers headache by making blood vessels dilate and constrict. These compounds are also found in homemade yeast, lima beans and breads. Another similar compound is nitrate which are usually found in processed foods like salami, hotdogs and bacon.
- Consume fish oil :- Many have agreed that fish oil capsules may reduce frequency and severity of headaches.
- Using ginger :- Dilating blood vessels can be prohibited with the help of Thromboxane A2. Ginger is known to release thromboxane A2 which help to keep the blood flow well – balanced and thus prevents headaches.
- Reducing the intake of caffeine :- Caffeine will not help you to get rid of headache rather they increase the intensity of headaches. Few products that contain caffeine and should be avoided are coffee and soda. Try to reduce your caffeine intake slowly. Reducing caffeine intake abruptly will increase your headache rather than reducing it.
- Taking magnesium rich supplements :- Magnesium rich supplements will help you to reduce tension and muscle spasms. Supplements containing about 200 to 400 mg of magnesium will work the best