Headache on head top, or a tension-type headache (TTH), is a pain usually described as a tight band fitting around your head or the feeling of a weight placed the crown of your head. This type of headache is the most common type of headache that is located on the top of the head. During a top of head headache there is constant pressure or aching around the head and the neck or shoulders may also hurt. The pain can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days or hurt continuously. If left uncorrected, a headache on head top can become more disabling as it turns into a chronic tension-type headache.

The Difference Between Headache on Head Top and Migraine

There are a few differences between a headache on head top and a migraine. Depending on what you have, treatments options can differ. While all symptoms below may not be present for everyone, these are typical symptoms found in those who experience a headache on head top and migraines.

Head top headaches do the following:

  • Occur sudden without warning
  • Pain is more likely to be all over
  • No nausea
  • No throbbing
  • No visual disturbances
  • Uncommon to start during sleep
  • No sensitivity to noise or light

As for migraines, they have the following differences:

  • Occur after warning signs or an aura
  • Pain is more likely to be one-sided
  • May experience nausea and/or vomiting
  • Contains visual disturbances
  • Common to start during sleep
  • Sensitivity to noise or light

Common Headache on Head Top Treatments

The best treatment would be to remove the cause of the head top headache; unfortunately, the most common treatments do not target the cause. Over the counter medications are used to help relieve headache on head top pain. Medications used may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, and pain relievers. Common NSAIDs used are ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin (Bayer). As for pain relievers, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is also common.

Although medications may provide a quick fix, the underlying cause of the headache on head top is still there and left untreated. NSAIDs are used to reduce inflammation by reducing the production of prostaglandins. However, prostaglandins are chemicals in the body that protect your stomach lining and intestines from the effects of acid, promote normal kidney functions, and promote blood clotting by activating blood platelets. Since NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins, it can lead to the creation of ulcers in your stomach and intestines as well as increase your risk of bleeding.

To add to this, NSAIDs could cause side effects. The most common side effects people have experienced while using NSAIDs include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, headache, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and rash. There is a chance NSAIDs may also cause your arms and legs to swell from the retention of kidney fluid. As for the more serious side effects of taking NSAIDs: bleeding, ulcers, liver failure (although rare), and kidney failure may occur.

Using acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache on head top relief also has a list of common side effects. Side effects that can occur from using acetaminophen include stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, rash, headache, dark urine, itching, jaundice (this is yellowing of the skin or eyes), and clay-colored stools. It is also important to note that if you overuse acetaminophen, you could develop severe liver damage so those who use acetaminophen should never take more than the recommended amount. When you take acetaminophen, your liver will turn it into a different substance and when there is too much of this substance produced it can start to damage your liver.

A Better Treatment for Headache on Head Top

Medication should be seen more as a last resort rather than the first choice. This is because medication never corrects the cause and is only made to mask your symptoms. There is a treatment out there that is completely natural, safe, and comes with no side effects that negatively impact your body. If you are suffering from headaches on head top, you may find the relief you are looking for under upper cervical adjustments.

First, upper cervical is not like general chiropractic and is very different! Usually when people think of chiropractors they think of cracking or popping of the spine, but upper cervical adjustments are quite the opposite. Upper cervical focuses on the top two bones of the spine located in the cervical area right under the base of the skull. The top two bones (the Atlas and the Axis) protect your brain stem and any small misalignment will cause the bones to shift and squeeze your brain stem. The pressure applied on the brain stem from misalignments change how the body perceives pain and balance. The brain stem controls the flow of communication between the brain and body and when it is squeezed this communication is disrupted and causes significant changes throughout your body including your breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and immune system to name a few. To add to this, a squeezed brain stem can lead to neurological problems as well including muscle weakness, loss of sensation, poor cognitive abilities, unexplained pain, and brain fog.

During a headache, your brain stem could be abnormally sensitizing your nerves and set off a reaction of pain in the brain. Since a disrupted brain stem can alter how your brain perceives pain and/or cause one to feel pain due to the pressure applied on the nerves, it could be causing your headache on head top pain. 

In order to take the pressure off the brain stem and return it and the other nerves back to normal function, the misalignments in the upper cervical area need to be corrected. Because of the neck region being a delicate area, upper cervical adjustments are gentle and very precise with no cracking or popping involved. Patients who experience headaches on head top not only find relief as soon as the very first adjustment but notice long term results with the cause being corrected.