If you don’t like the idea of taking medications on a regular basis, consider a chiropractic treatment. In this method a chiropractor will manipulate on your spine to restore a normal alignment to your spinal column. It should release the tension and relieve the pain at the base of the neck.
The last option is surgery, however, it’s always the last resort and your doctor will recommend it to you only if the pain is really severe and all the other possible treatments don’t work.
One of the possible operations is microvascular decompression, during which the doctor will work on the blood vessels that might be putting pressure on your nerve. Once it’s resolved, your pain will go away.
Occipital nerve stimulation is another option. During this procedure the specialist will use a neurostimulator to carry electrical pulses to the occipital nerves. Due to this method, your brain won’t read pain messages.
However, the best, the safest, and the most natural treatment you should always try to follow is regular exercising.
Exercises for a Headache at the Base of the Neck
The main cause of occipital neuralgia is the irritation of the occipital nerve. While medications or steroid shots are the most common ways of treatments, try exercises too. They might be unbelievably effective, but always consult your doctor before you introduce them into your daily routine.
One of the exercises you should try is known as sub-occipital neck stretch. Sit in a chair that supports your back. Keep your head and neck in one line with your spine. Now put your pointer and middle finger of your right hand on your chin. Now gently push your chin back as if you were trying to form a double chin.
Don’t open your mouth while doing the exercise and move only your head back. Probably you will feel a stretch at the back and sides of your neck. Hold for a few seconds and move back to a starting position.
Neck rotation is another wonderful and easy exercise. Sit or stand so that your neck and head are in a straight line with your spine. Now very slowly start to rotate your head to the left. Remember to keep your head straight and stretch as far as you can, without feeling any pain or strain. Hold for a moment, move back to the starting position and repeat with your right side. Try to do the exercise a few times throughout the day.
It’s also worth working on your neck flexion and extension by performing a simple exercise. Sit in a chair and put your hands on your knees. Look forward and position your head and neck in a straight line with your spine. Now try to lean your head back so that you can look at the ceiling. Move back to the starting position.
Now, lean your head forward so that you can touch your chest with your chin. Return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
If you want to get rid of a headache at the base of the neck, you should seriously consider taking up yoga. Relaxation is one of the best things you can offer to your stiffen muscles. Savasana is a yoga pose that might turn out to be the most effective.
Lie on your back, put a pillow under your head. You can also tie your eyes to intensify the relaxation. Your legs should maintain a natural position, your arms should be kept by your sides with your palms facing up. Stay in this position for about 30 minutes, try to concentrate only on your breathing.
The first attempts with savasana might be unsuccessful as it can be difficult for you to stay calm, not to fidget, or calm down your thoughts. However, once you get used to it, savasana will bring you in a state of deep relaxation and that may help you eliminate headaches at the base of the neck.
How to Prevent Headaches at the Base of the Neck
The best way to prevent a headache is to learn the triggers and then avoid them. However, there are some general rules which may be helpful in getting rid of headaches at the back of your head or neck.
It may sound surprising, but avoid food enhancers, such as Monosodium Glutamate. It intensifies the taste and makes our food delicious, however, some studies have proved that it may cause some side effects.
Apparently, some people are sensitive to this chemical compound and as a result they suffer from headaches. To see if that’s the culprit of your problem, cut it off for some time and check if you can feel the difference.
Other unhealthy food compounds, which may lead to headaches, are nitrates and amines. You can find the former one in chocolate, yeast bread, or lima beans. The latter one is found in processed type of food, such as hot dogs, salami, hamburgers, or bacon.