What’s Causing Your Headache Behind the Eyes?

July 12, 2020


When an individual experiences a headache behind the eyes, relief is what he or she wishes for. If this happens to you or someone you love, the initial thing you may do is to know why. What is causing the pain behind the eyes? Is there something you can do to make it better? Do eye problems cause it? 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that pain behind the eye is physical discomfort caused by an eye disease or other conditions. However, where you feel the pain is not automatically an indicator of what is causing the pain.

More than Meets the Eye

In many cases, a headache behind the eyes is a kind of referred pain. In other words, the pain does not necessarily originate in the eyes but somewhere else. Referred pain is frequent due to the body’s intricate network of interconnecting sensory nerves that provisions various tissues. Therefore, the central nervous system (CNS) plays a massive role in this matter. The CNS includes the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. Almost all the head components that are sensitive to pain refer to or transfer the pain to the eye region. As a result, this means, just because there is a pain in the eyes, it doesn’t mean the issue is with the eyes. 

Common Causes of a Headache Behind the Eyes:

  • Migraines

Migraine headache is a prevalent kind of disabling head pain. It is an episodic headache that may last from a few minutes up to 72 hours. Migraines often produce intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head and also behind the eye. It tends to spread to the back of the head. 

Other classic symptoms of migraines include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and strange odors

Migraine came from the word megrim, which means sick headache. Therefore, individuals with migraines are prone to become ill. Migraines are the most common reason for a headache behind the eyes.

Visual disturbances such as halos around light sources or flashing lights is an example of a migraine aura that may come before the headache pain. However, a significant number of people with migraines do not experience this migraine aura.

Migraine Triggers

These are just a few among the many migraine triggers:

  • Fatigue
  • Emotional stress
  • Skipping meals
  • Certain types of food
  • Changes in humidity and heat
  • Lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Bright or flickering lights
  • Strong smells
  • Loud noises
  • Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache is a condition that causes frequent and numerous attacks of excruciating and short headaches. These cluster periods may last for weeks or even months. Then it is followed by a period of remission. Meaning, there will be no more headaches for the next months or even a year. This type of headache usually appears quickly, sometimes with an aura, and persists up to three hours. 

Cluster Headache Symptoms

  • Excruciating pain (often, a headache behind the eyes
  • Pain radiates to other parts of the face, head, and neck
  • Red and swollen eyes
  • Excessive tears falling

Abnormalities in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that controls various essential bodily functions) may cause cluster headaches. However, researchers are yet to identify the triggers. Also, there is no cure for cluster headaches behind the eyes as of today.

  • Sinus Infections or Sinus Headaches

The sinuses are air-filled spaces within the skull and located behind the nose, cheeks, forehead, and eyes. Infection of the sinuses, also known as sinusitis, is a common cause of pain. Sinus infection may result in a headache behind the eyes.

Sinus headaches are rare. Current solution for sinus infection involves resolving the underlying inflammation with decongestants and prescription antibiotics. Migraines and cluster headaches sometimes get misdiagnosed for sinus headaches.

  • Eye Strain

An eye strain happens when your eyes get very tired from working too hard. Often, it happens after doing activities that are eye intensive such as staring at a computer screen, driving for long periods, and reading for several hours at a time. Eye strain is not severe, and it usually goes away when you close your eyes to take a much-needed rest.

Eye strain symptoms include the following:

  • Sore, burning, or itching eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sore back or shoulders

How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Can Relieve a Headache Behind the Eyes

If your headache behind the eyes is due to migraines or any type of headaches, then upper cervical chiropractic may help. Here’s how.

Do you remember the CNS or the central nervous system previously mentioned in the early part of the article? It involves the brain, the brainstem, and the spinal cord. Here, we will be focusing on the brainstem. 

The (C1) atlas and the (C2) axis vertebrae of the upper neck area, have the essential function of shielding and protecting the brainstem. The brainstem is the control center of several of the body's life-sustaining functions. An upper cervical misalignment can cause pressure and stress on the brainstem, distorting the standard brain-body signals traveling over the CNS. Therefore, the brainstem may start sending wrong messages to the brain. Thus, many health conditions could begin, such as migraines and headaches.

Upper cervical chiropractic care corrects this misalignment through a gentle and precise method. Patients of this practice report a significant improvement in their migraines and headaches symptoms. Many of them even enjoyed a complete resolution of their health issues. 

Seek an upper cervical chiropractor in your region as soon as possible to address the root cause of your headache behind the eyes.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.


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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.