top of page
  • Writer's pictureJohn Stenberg

What Causes Headache Behind The Eyes?

Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustments Help Headache Behind the Eyes?

If you’ve ever experienced headaches behind your eye, you know how aggravating and distracting it can be. This is a common symptom of a tension headache and is experienced by millions of people worldwide ranging from children to the elderly. While headaches behind the eyes might not be as debilitating as a migraine headache, it is not something that you should experience on a routine basis and takes away from your quality of life.

Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms

Many people are searching for safe, effective, and natural ways to relieve headaches behind the eyes. Upper cervical chiropractors are a subset of the chiropractic profession that focuses on the top portion of the spine. This region of the spine is different than the rest of the spine for two main reasons:

  1. it is the most movable and mechanically weakest part of the spine

  2. is the most sensitive part of the spine to the nerve system

For these reasons specialized chiropractic approaches have been developed in order to provide a precise, gentle, and effective way to correct the spine.

A common side effect of issues in the upper neck is muscular tension around the neck, face, and shoulders. Folks with upper neck issues commonly experience tension type headaches as the strain of abnormal spinal alignment causes the muscles around the head and neck to hold tension. For these individuals, lasting relief from headaches behind the eyes will only be achieved by addressing the underlying issue in the upper cervical spine.

How to Understand Headache Behind Eyes

It is important to understand when the headache behind your eyes is related to a spinal problem. It is not uncommon for it to be assumed that these types of headaches are related to sinus pressure and treated as such.

If you are not experiencing sinus pressure, drainage, and nasal dripping then chances are the headache behind your eyes is not related to a sinus infection. When headaches behind the eyes are related to the spine they typically develop in the following way:

  • tension and pain will begin to develop at the base of the skull and tops of the shoulders

  • dull achy pain will start to wrap around the temples

  • pain behind the eyes will set in and linger for minutes to hours

If this sounds like your experience in the late afternoon/evening, you may be experiencing headaches behind the eyes as a side effect of upper neck problems.

What Can Cause Headache Behind the Eyes?

As alluded to above, there are multiple causes of headaches behind the eyes. The following issues could be contributing to this symptom:

  • an infection in the sinuses (usually accompanied by pain to the touch and sinus drainage)

  • Eye strain (most common in individuals with an outdated prescription for glasses/contact lenses)

  • Upper neck issues (commonly associated with neck and shoulder tension)

These are the most common benign causes of headaches behind the eyes. There are more serious conditions that could be causing these symptoms as well, but these are rarer and must be diagnosed by a medical provider once the more common and conservative factors have been considered and ruled out.

What to do About Headache Behind Eyes

Arriving at lasting relief for headache behind the eyes depends on an accurate diagnosis as to the cause of your condition. A mismanaged or misdiagnosed cause of your problem will lead to delayed or inappropriate care.

Since many headaches behind the eyes are caused by or related to issues with the neck, consulting with a qualified Upper Cervical Chiropractic Doctor is a reasonable first step. These doctors are trained to detect any issues with the cervical spine that may be causing headaches behind the eyes. If they determine that you do have neck problems, a targeted plan of action will be developed to help you find lasting relief. If it is determined that your problem is not related to the cervical spine, then an appropriate referral to a provider who can help will take place.

The Blair Upper Cervical technique is at the forefront of this unique approach to chiropractic. Colorado Springs chiropractor Dr. John Stenberg is the only doctor in Colorado Springs trained in the Blair Upper Cervical technique.

Most Common Reasons Adults Have Headache Behind Eyes

Many adults who experience headaches behind the eyes have a history of whiplash or neck injury. This may be a motor vehicle collision, an old sports injury or concussion, or a slip or fall that jarred the spine. All of these traumas are able to produce a displacement in the alignment of the upper neck which has several side effects including:

  • Shifting and unbalanced posture

  • Muscle tension around the head, neck, and shoulders

  • Disruption of nerve flow, spinal fluid flow, and blood flow at the base of the skull

Over time, the wear and tear associated with upper neck problems is likely to produce on or more side effects (a.k.a. symptoms). For many individuals tension headaches and headaches behind the eyes begin to occur more and more frequently as their neck problem progresses.

Most Common Reasons Children Have Headache Behind the Eyes

Children are susceptible to upper cervical spinal problems as well. As they grow and develop the musculature around the shoulders and spine, they experienced a variety of stressors that may cause a spinal issue. A few of the most common include:

  • Sports injuries

  • Carrying a heavy backpack

  • Falls while playing

  • Poor posture

  • “text neck” or looking down at electronic devices for prolonged periods of time

It is important for these problems to be addressed at the earliest onset in order to provide the maximal improvement and to prevent further issues in the future.

Children with headaches behind the eyes will have a harder time concentrating in school, will be moody due to pain, and often struggle to keep up academically due to the pain. It is important to also have an eye exam to determine if corrective lenses are needed to help reduce eye strain.

Diagnostic Testing For Headache Behind Eyes

Headaches behind the eyes are most commonly diagnosed based on symptoms alone. Individuals will describe to their healthcare provider what they are feeling, when they feel it, and how it is affecting their life. Many times, these individuals do not receive any diagnostic testing and are treated conventionally with over the counter drugs that temporarily relieve the pain.

Upper cervical doctors perform a battery of tests to determine the source of the problem. Often this includes a detailed health history, nerve testing, posture evaluation, and upper spinal imaging (digital x-ray, CBCT, etc.). This diagnostic testing is crucial for understanding if your headache behind the eyes is related to a spinal issue and to what extent. This also provides the blueprint for correction so that you can enjoy lasting results rather than temporary relief.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Treatment for Headache Behind Eyes

Upper cervical chiropractic treatment for headaches behind the eyes will be targeted at the structural condition that is underlying it. With an understanding of how structural issues with the upper spine can produce headaches behind the eyes as a common side effect, the reasonable approach would be to correct the structural issue thus removing the stress and strain producing the symptom.

Colorado Springs chiropractor Dr. John Stenberg has successfully managed patients with headaches behind the eyes using precise, gentle, and effective upper cervical chiropractic care.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page