What Does Pain on Top of the Head Scalp Mean and How Do You Get Rid of It?

Pain on top of the head scalp

Pain on top of the head scalp or scalp tenderness is associated with various types of headaches and other issues. To be more specific, scalp tenderness often has to do with problems in the nerves that run from the forehead to the back of the neck.

Also, certain conditions make these nerves to restrict or swell. Thus, it results in pain that moves throughout the scalp, the entire head, and neck. According to Johns Hopkins University, this particular pain causes intense, hot, electric-like shocks.

What is Scalp Tenderness?

Scalp tenderness includes tingling, inflammation, pain, numbness, irritation, itching, throbbing, or scalp sensitivity. Often, several of these symptoms combine and appear together. Thus, various symptoms may be present for scalp tenderness.

What Causes Scalp Tenderness and Sensitivity?

Scalp tenderness is a widespread complaint linked with various medical conditions, and it affects many people. Common causes include the following:

  • Migraines
  • Tension headaches
  • Autoimmune disorders (psoriasis can hurt, inflame and irritate the scalp)
  • Sunburns, wounds, and insect bites
  • Allergies and rashes
  • Hair loss

Most cases of pain on top of the head scalp clear up on their own or with the help of medication. However, some are signs of an underlying condition.

Other Triggers of Scalp Tenderness

Some conditions affect the skin elsewhere on the body. In some cases, these can also be present on the scalp. These include the following:

  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Infections of the skin cells
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections of hair follicle shafts
  • Viral diseases that can cause skin sores (shingles and measles)
  • Using hairdryers, curlers, and flat irons
  • Tight hairstyles, or using headbands and helmets
  • Too much or improper use of hair products (dyes and relaxers)

Also, too much hair brushing or rubbing of the hair while still wet can break hair follicles, thus, causing scalp irritation and hair loss.

Why Do You Feel Pain On Top of the Head Scalp?

Flaking, peeling, and scaling skin may accompany pain on top of the head scalp. They may stem from conditions that affect the following body parts:

  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels
  • Tissues beneath
  • Tissues surrounding the scalp

Allodynia and Migraines

Pain on top of the head scalp is a strange and common occurrence for people with migraine headaches. For most of those with this type of difficult problem, the reason for this particular pain is different. This condition is called allodynia (sensitivity to touch). It is present in almost two-thirds of people with migraines. 

Usually, non-painful stimuli — such as wearing a hat, brushing your hair, and feeling the water wash over your hair would cause pain. Also, when you lie down on the side of the headache, it can make the scalp feel increasingly sore and tender. Why? It’s the result of the frequent firing of nerve cells in the brain that are involved in the process of migraine attacks.

As a result, tight hairstyles are the first contributing cause of migraines. However, hair that hurts can also occur separately, as a component of a migraine attack that is often brought on by other personal triggers.

Possible Risk Factors to Consider

People with naturally dry or greasy scalp are more vulnerable to pain on top of the head scalp and may also suffer from sensitive skin in other areas, not just the head. You may also be more likely to experience symptoms of scalp tenderness if you are:

  • Stressed
  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Living in a place with varying climates or cold temperatures
  • Suffering from allergies
  • Experiencing asthma

When Is Scalp Pain A Cause For Emergency?

Scalp pain can indicate a severe condition if they come with severe symptoms. Immediately seek medical care or call an emergency hotline if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden blindness in one or both eyes
  • Confusion 
  • Loss of consciousness (even for a short moment)
  • Fluid draining from your nose, mouth or ears
  • Uncontrolled or jerky movement
  • Numbness (after experiencing a head, neck or back injury) 
  • Sensory changes (hearing, vision, smelling)
  • Seizure 
  • Unequal size of pupils

Again, if any of these symptoms accompany your scalp pain, please seek emergency medical care. If you experience severe pain or extended cases of scalp sensitivity, you should report this to your family doctor.

Migraines and Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Upper cervical chiropractic is a natural care that can help anyone who feel pain on top of the head scalp due to migraines. Chiropractors who practice upper cervical care focus on ensuring that the atlas (C1) vertebra, the top bone in the upper cervical spine, is correctly aligned.

If there is a misalignment in this area, it can put tension and pressure on the brainstem. As a result, the brainstem function becomes disrupted. What happens? Disruption causes a malfunction in the brainstem, which results in sending improper signals to the brain. Thus, migraines become the result. Therefore, it is crucial to correct any misalignments in the upper neck accurately. 

The optimal health of the entire spine relies on how the correct alignment of the uppermost vertebra. Upper cervical chiropractic care offers a natural and long-lasting migraine relief. It is also completely safe because the procedure is gentle and highly precise. As a result, numerous patients experience relief from their headaches, migraines, and pain. Once this root cause gets corrected, some patients even see their migraines go entirely away. You can say goodbye to pain on top of the head scalp.

Pain top of the head scalp

Upper Cervical Research Related to Pain on Top of the Head Scalp

The research on upper cervical chiropractic care and migraines shows some promising results. A case series published in 2019 illustrated an integrated model of care for migraines that combines standard neurological care with chiropractic treatment. The study highlighted the need for further evaluation of integrated models of chiropractic and neurologic care.

Another clinical study in 2016 showed a connection between migraine headaches and NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) care. The study involved 11 migraine patients who received NUCCA care and showed significant improvement in their condition.

An observational pilot study in 2023 followed 11 neurologist-diagnosed migraine subjects and found that atlas vertebrae realignment was associated with a reduction in migraine frequency and marked improvement in quality of life. However, the study emphasized the need for future research with controls to confirm the findings.

While the research is promising, more rigorous studies with adequate control groups are needed to determine the efficacy and safety of chiropractic care for migraine patients.

Benefits of Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Migraines

The benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care for migraines with pain on top of the head scalp include:

  • Addressing the root cause: By correcting misalignments in the upper neck, this approach aims to alleviate pressure on the nerves and restore optimal nerve function, potentially leading to long-lasting relief.
  • Non-invasive and drug-free: Unlike pain medications, upper cervical chiropractic care is non-invasive, gentle, and drug-free, eliminating the need for medications that may have adverse side effects or potential dependency.
  • Individualized treatment: Upper cervical chiropractors often adopt a holistic approach, considering the interplay between the upper neck vertebrae and other factors that may contribute to migraines, such as posture, lifestyle, and stress levels. They may provide recommendations for lifestyle modifications and exercises that can complement the chiropractic adjustments and support long-term migraine management.

According to a source from an upper cervical chiropractic center, upper cervical doctors frequently see a 90-95% success rate in the elimination of migraine headaches, with the remaining 5-10% experiencing a reduction in symptoms.

Additionally, a 2019 case series highlighted the promise of integrated models of chiropractic and neurologic care for migraine patients, but emphasized the need for further rigorously designed studies with adequate control groups to determine the efficacy and safety of chiropractic care for migraines.

The available information suggests a high success rate and overall effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic care for migraines including pain on top of the head scalp.

If you are struggling with pain on top of the head scalp that it's time to find an upper cervical chiropractor near you by using our search function below. 

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.