Can exercise cause head pressure at the back of the head?

Head pressure at the back part of the head during or after exercise can be disturbing, especially if the individual has not experienced one before. This can be caused by various training errors and health conditions where some require proper assessment by a doctor. Since head pressure can be excruciating, it is vital to understand why it occurs during exercise and how it can be managed.

What are the symptoms?

The head pressure in the back part of the head that occurs while exercising can range from mild to intense. Always bear in mind that the pressure can also affect the front or both sides of the head.

Other additional symptoms include throbbing sensations, stiffness or rigidity in the neck, vomiting, double vision and loss of consciousness. The symptoms can persist for 5 minutes up to several days.

Causes of head pressure

While exercising, especially strenuously, the blood vessels within the skull become dilated to increase the flow of blood and oxygen. This ensuing dilation stretches out the nerves surrounding the brain which triggers pain and pressure in the back part of the head during or after exercise.

Head pressure

The head pressure can be worsened if the individual strenuously exercises or pushes the body during workouts.

The head pressure can be worsened if the individual strenuously exercises or pushes the body during workouts. Certain conditions such as dehydration, sinus infection, exercising during warm weather or high altitude can also trigger head pressure.

Management

The individual should reduce the intensity and duration of his/her workouts. It is important to concentrate on proper breathing in order to maximize the flow of oxygen to the brain and muscles.

You can provide the individual with a pain medication such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen to alleviate the pressure. In case the head pressure and pain is chronic, the doctor might prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication such as indomethacin. In addition, the individual should drink approximately 8 oz. of water before any physical activity and another throughout the workout.

Considerations to bear in mind

It is vital to seek medical care if the head pressure in the back part of the head is chronic, severe or develops suddenly during or after physical activity or it is first time that the individual experienced the symptoms.

Even though head pressure is not always dangerous, it can indicate an underlying health condition such as bleeding in the brain, abnormalities with the blood vessels, tumors or obstruction in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

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