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Your Guide to Common Areas of Headaches & What They Mean

Headaches are extremely common, with recent research reporting that the condition affects 52% of the global population. Furthermore, 15.8% of individuals experience headaches every day.

You might feel a headache occur in various parts of the head, which may be a way to figure out the cause of it. Though their location may not be a foolproof way to understand why your head hurts, it’s a potential first step to identifying the root cause. 

Let’s look at where headaches usually originate, what they mean, and how to address these conditions.

What are the Common Areas of Headaches?

The Entire Head

A headache surrounding your entire head may feel like a tight band is squeezing it. This sensation means that you’re experiencing a tension headache.

Tension headaches are the most prevalent type of primary headaches. About 46 to 78% of individuals worldwide experience one at some point.

Symptoms of a Tension Headache

A tension headache causes pressure-like, dull pain. You may feel it around the back of your head, temples, and forehead, triggering a sensation similar to a tight hat pressing on the head. Moreover, mild to moderate pain can accompany a tension headache.

Sometimes, this type of headache coincides with a migraine. If you experience either of these conditions, you may expect the other to follow. Other symptoms of a tension headache include pain and pressure in your neck and pain and tenderness around your forehead.

Causes of a Tension Headache 

This type of headache can stem from stress or neck problems. But other factors may also trigger it, including:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Eating fewer meals
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Physical strain
  • Fatigue
  • Colds or flu 

One Side of the Head

A headache in one particular area of your head could indicate a migraine or cluster headache. Let’s take a closer look at this type of headache and its causes.


A migraine causes pain on the left or right side of your head. You may experience persistent attacks with symptoms like throbbing, pulsating pain, nausea or vomiting, and trouble concentrating on specific tasks.

An aura is a common symptom of a migraine. It’s a set of sensory symptoms ranging from seeing bright or flashing lights to experiencing numbness or tingling.

Various factors can contribute to migraines. Genetics is one possible cause, as these headaches tend to affect families. But in other cases, you may experience a migraine due to stress, loud sounds, or specific smells.

Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache can also trigger one-sided head pain. The pain usually occurs behind or around one eye, but it can spread to the following areas as well:

  • The forehead
  • The nose
  • The neck
  • The shoulders

You may feel one-sided head pain from a cluster headache in certain areas of your body on that same side. For example, pain on the left side of your head can affect your left shoulder.

Moreover, cluster headaches can be chronic or episodic. They typically feel like an intense, stabbing pain behind or around the affected eye, causing red and watery eyes and smaller, constricted pupils.

Experts have yet to determine what triggers cluster headaches. But the dysfunction of the hypothalamus is a possible reason behind these headaches. Normally, this part of the brain helps your body produce hormones and stimulates many essential processes.

The Front of the Head & Face

Pain in the front of the face or head can be linked to different causes. For instance, you may experience a headache behind your eyes and nasal passages if you have allergies.

In some cases, pain in front of your head and face could mean a sinus headache. This secondary headache can occur in the forehead, cheeks, nasal cavity, or all of these areas. But it’s possible that a sinus headache may be a migraine triggering the pain in the sinuses.

Additionally, pain in your forehead, cheeks, or behind both eyes can indicate a cluster headache.

The Back of the Head

Arthritis of the neck may trigger pain in the back of your head. However, this pain may also be caused by poor posture or specific neck conditions like a herniated disc.

A low-pressure headache called spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) might also be behind a headache in the back of the head. This condition may come on due to low spinal fluid pressure in the brain.

SIH triggers pain that subsides as you lie down but worsens with movements like:

  • Sitting upright
  • Standing
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Stretching
  • Performing physical activities

Occipital neuralgia may also be at the root of the pain in the back of the head. It occurs when the occipital nerves that run along the top of your spinal cord and scalp become inflamed or injured. In turn, it may trigger pain in the base of your skull or the back of your head.

Can a Chiropractor Help with Headaches?

A chiropractor can help you manage headaches through non-invasive treatments, including:

Spinal Adjustments

This procedure is one way chiropractors ease a headache. In this case, your chiropractic specialist will adjust your neck. A back adjustment may also be in order if they identify possible back problems during your physical exam.

Before starting any treatment, your doctor will examine the affected areas to identify misaligned joints. These joints put pressure on your nerves, which may trigger a headache. A spinal adjustment helps relieve pain, stress, and tension.

Lifestyle Changes

Chiropractors may recommend lifestyle changes to help with your headaches. They’ll ask you about specific triggers or the factors behind your headache, such as stress, poor posture, certain foods, and environmental factors.

After determining the root cause of your headache, your chiropractor will give you specific adjustments to make, like corrective exercises. They may also be as simple as consuming a healthier diet, reducing stress, or getting adequate sleep.

Manage a Mild or Intense Headache Naturally

Headaches have various reasons behind them. Determining where the pain comes from can help you get the root cause of your pain and properly address it.

Chiropractic care is a good treatment option if you’re seeking relief from a headache. It involves non-invasive methods for managing headaches. These natural approaches can help you address your pain and prevent reoccurence.

For more expert tips on pain management, visit the LifeClinic blog today.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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