A pain or a headache occurrring at the base of the head (whether after physical activity or otherwise) is usually due to stimulation of the occipital nerve. It is a type of tension headache. The commonest cause of an occipital headache is tension of the muscles of the back of the neck and lower scalp. These squeeze or pinch the occipital nerve that arises from the base of the skull, causing intense headache. Here is a very good image of the occipital nerve emerging from the skull:
- http://gulfcoastpain.com/onb_Info.htm scroll down to the image midway on the page.
Other causes of occipital neuralgia or headache can be injury to the back of the neck or any conditions affecting the bones of the skull at the point of emergence of the nerve. Arthritis of the joints of the spine at the base of the head can also cause occipital headache.
You will need to get an Xray done to check for arthritis.
If you do not have arthritis, treatment essentially consists of relaxing the muscles by injecting a local anesthetic at the site as well as oral medicines to decrease the pain. Massage, application of warm pack and physiotherapy can also help.
The occipital nerve gives off a branch known as the lesser occipital nerve which supplies parts of the ear. So, pressure over the occipital nerve can also cause ear pain.
To know more about occipital headaches, please see:
I hope this helps.
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