Neck pain at the base of the skull is a common problem in mankind. If it remains long for the time, it may indicate towards slipped disc or arthritis. It can happen at any age. Improper posture, injuries to the neck, and damage to the occipital nerve may be causes of nerve pain. Its symptoms involve involuntary contraction of the neck muscles, discomfort at the base of the skull, headache and nerve pain that can be radiated to the arms.


Why Does My Neck Hurt At The Base Of My Skull?

Neck ailments may lead to the pain and discomfort at the base of the skull. This pain can be moderate to severe. It is usually located at the base of the skull. It is associated with radiating pain, discomfort, and weakness from the base of the skull to the arms. In severe cases, neck hurts so much that it cannot bear even the weight of the head. In a few cases, the neck is bent to the left or right side while walking.(1)

The reasons for neck pain at the base of your skull could be-

Trauma- injuries to the ligaments, tendons and other structures can cause sprain leading to pain at the base of the skull.(1)


Poor Neck Posture- prolonged sitting or standing exerts excessive strain and weight on the neck leading to pain. Long time reading a book, working on the computer, watching television can trigger neck pain at the base of the skull by continuous stress on the neck muscles.(1)

Wrong Sleeping Position- sleeping in the wrong position or sleeping on thick and firm pillows may deliver excess strain on the neck muscles resulting in neck pain. It may result in stiffness followed by discomfort at the base of the skull. Sleeping disorders may increase musculoskeletal pain that may cause neck problems and neck pain at the base of the skull.(1)


Sedentary Lifestyle- spending too much on the computer may elevate the stress on the neck and back muscles. It triggers the neck pain at the base of the skull. It may contribute to the chronic musculoskeletal pain resulting in the neck pain.(1)

Neck Arthritis- neck arthritis is the inflammatory condition of the joints present in the neck area. It is caused due to the attack of the immune system on the joints. It causes deformities in the bones of the neck resulting in the pain at the base of the skull.(1)

Repeated Strain- the neck can support 1.5 to 2 kg weight of the head. Frequent movement of the head with no proper rest may increase stress on the structures of the neck. The overuse of the neck may trigger pain at the base of the skull.(1)

Slipped Disc- slipped disc is a condition in which the discs of the spine are displaced from their original position. The nerves passing through this area may get compressed and may induce pain at the base of the skull.(1)

Occipital Neuralgia- occipital neuralgia is caused by pinching and trapping of the occipital nerve. According to John Hopkins Medicine, occipital neuralgia leads to the shooting pain like electric currents at the base of the skull that travels to the scalp.(2)

Skull Base Tumors- in some cases, tumors develop at the base of the skull that may induce discomfort in this area.(1)

Osteoporosis- it is a condition that weakens the bones. It develops after the age of 50 years. It leads to pain in the neck.


Neck pain is a common problem that may develop due to many reasons. Your neck hurts at the base of skull due to bad posture during work or sleep, neck injuries, thick or firm pillows, osteoarthritis, skull base tumors, repeated strain, occipital neuralgia and others discussed above.


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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 28, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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