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Burning sensation in back of skull
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Burning sensation in back of skull

Since the neurology forum is so hard to get into and post a question I'll ask any readers here if anyone has had these symptoms?  I get a weird burning sensation in the back of my head, this often starts up in the morning and subsides by evening. The burning sensation seems to be even behind my ears. I also get a sensation of discomfort in my upper neck, right at the base of the skull, like my head is sinking in and compressing something. I have arthritis with bone spurs at C3-4-5-6-7 and thoracic spine. I don't know if this has something to do with my symptoms or not. I had a brain MRI last month and it was normal. My bloodwork is normal too. Has anyone had these symptoms?
Tags: skull, Neck
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37 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
I do.  Burning, kinda tight, and annoying.  Mine is base of skull, sometimes down left side of neck, and also above ear and eye.  I too have haad a brain MRI, everything is normal, except "EXTENSIVE" sinus thickening.  I too wake up with it, except mine lasts for 2 or 3 days.  Motrin 800 mg, and a heating pad is the only relief I get.  I know it's frustrating, I've had these for 8 years.  Going to ask doc about PT. Take care-.
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Avatar_n_tn
I also get a burning feeling from the back of my neck up to the top of my head at times.  Sometimes it feels like my sinuses, sometimes not.  At times, I get a lot of nausea, which also somehow feels like it is coming from the back of my neck or base of my skull (if that's possible).

Bloodwork is all normal, CT scan of sinuses was normal, neck x-ray was normal.  Although my massage therapist said my neck is way out of whack.

Some of it may be from stress, but I'm not really sure on the causes.

Kevin
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Avatar_n_tn
Has anyone asked their doctors about Chiari? I was told that you don't get a diagnosis of Chiari unless there is 5mm herniation or more, but I went to a support group and it seems that some people get these symptoms at 2mm-4mm but the doctors dismiss these findings as incidental and suggest no treatment.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had the same symptoms a few months ago before I was diagnosed with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bells_palsy" target="_blank">Bell's palsy</a>, which is caused by inflamation (inflammation) of a facial nerve.  About a couple of days later I became semi-paralyzed on the left side of my face; this lasted about three weeks. A day later after the semi-paralysis began, I went to the hospital to get a prescription for anti-inflammatory steroids.

It is suggested that you make an appointment as soon as possible to see if it is a symptom of Bell's palsy or some other.
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Avatar_n_tn
Do you get any other symptoms such as nausea or dizziness with it?
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Avatar_n_tn
Well I can sympathize with you, I have a lot of that same feeling and I feel very sick and miserable almost all the time because of it (and I mean headache and sick to stomach).  No meds have ever worked, even had surgery for what I thought was acid reflux.

Now I am suspecting a neck problem - although a previous x-ray showed it to be normal.  I have had massage therapists tell me it is way out of whack though in spite of this.

I think some of it is stress, but I think stress is only making the underlying problem worse.
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Avatar_m_tn
In answer to your question, yes I get dizzy but not always. But I have a long history of dizzy spells anyway. And there is something wrong with my vestibular system - but the specialists don't exactly know what it is!
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks all for your comments. Today I'm having a headache in the back of the head and upper neck. Unfortunately I have to sleep on 2 pillows...I also have (mild) sleep apnea and have trouble breathing laying down flat. The two pillows do not help my neck any. Maybe traction or a cervical collar will help?
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Avatar_n_tn
my headaches are at the base of the skull and I have constant neck pain I was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri. I was treated for a year and the papplidema went away so they thought that I was in remission even though I still had headaches. I insisted that my pressure was still elevated and they did antother spinal tap last month and I have elevated CSF with no papplidema. They took 2/3 of my fluid out and I was headache and neck pain free for 1 day!! And these last 5 years they have been telling me they were stress related pains until my symptoms went away when they lowered the pressure.
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Avatar_n_tn
My problem with phrases like idiopathic and pseudo with my increased pressure of CSF is that I have abnormal csf testing with negative mri.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hmmm...I had pseudotumor cerebri myself..in 1994.  They diagnosed it on the basis of eye exam- pappiledema.  I never had the spinal tap, they told me it was optional. The papiledema went away within 2 weeks..I took Diamox for a month. The docs pronounced me cured....but am I?  My eye exams are normal- I have them every 6 months- although I see little squiggles, visual snow, and other things..mostly at night. Does PTC go away in a couple weeks? I'm wondering if I have increased pressure? I get headaches too...mainly waking up with migraines. Also dizzy spells, loud tinnitus, and now the burning scalp sensation. I could ask for Diamox (not my fave drug- the side effects were awful) but the doctor won't prescribe something like that if he feels I don't have PTC.
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Avatar_n_tn
I thought they had to check your pressure with LP in order to get a diagnosis of Pseudotumor Cerebri. How can they tell without it? I would check with your doctor about getting an LP to measure your pressure. But like I said earlier my pressure was only slightly elevated over the ref range and I have the same symptoms as you (and others).Do you hear a swooshing sound near your right ear?I do and that is when I know my pressure is elevated. I don't hear that sound all the time I hear most at night and morning, so I know that the pressure changes throughout the day. I was on Diamox for a year and the pappiledema went away so they took me off it but I still had headaches. I went to http://www.findmemyhouse.com/ptc/ptc_forum/ which is a PTC support forum and there seems to be many people that suffer headaches and neck pain 24/7. But then there are people that get a shunt and they seem headache free. Just curious do you have any other symptoms other than what you said earlier?
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Avatar_n_tn
Your symptoms sound just like mine and I do have increased pressure. You are probably right about the doctors not wanting to do a tap, I don't think they would have gave me one either except my csf is abnormal and they wanted to check to see if it still was and thats when they found out that my pressure was up and I currently do not have pappiledema. Can you ask your doctor to give you diamox to see if this will help with stmptoms? You might want to ask abut Topamax I see alot of people on the PTC site are on it and seem to do pretty good they might call it dopamax because I heard it causes drowsiness.My neuroligist wants to put me on it but I am going to try to get pregnant after all this testing is done and he said it is not safe for baby, so I decided to wait and take advil.Good luck to you, I hope your doctor will listen and try and help you through this.
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Avatar_m_tn
Well, like I said, this happened in 1994. The neurologist I saw did not make a big issue of it that I did not have a spinal tap. I had an MRI and nothing was found to cause pappiledma..so thats how they dx'd me with PTC. I'm wondering if maybe I STILL have a low level increase in pressure?  I get horribel tinnitus..but its high pitched and in both ears.  I also get weird throbbiing sensations in my head when I get up fast from sittiing. I've had the whoosh whoosh sound in my right ear but only occassionally. Because of that I had an MRA done and that was normal. And yes I get neck pain...but then again my neck is full of arthritis. At this point I don't think any doctor will give me a lumbar puncture because my vision/retina is ok so I don't know what to do.
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Avatar_n_tn
One of the side effects of topamax is weight loss and that might be why they have been giving it to people with PTC. My neuro told me that yes it is a antiseizure medication but it is also for people with chronic pain associated with illnesses like fibromyalgia and PTC and that is what I have chronic pain.I told him that I was afraid of the side affects and that I wasn't even sure this med would work but he assured me that the benefits of this med will far out weigh the small risks associated with it. I still haven't taken it because I am going to try and get pregnant when all this testing is done so I decided to wait. He said that the side affects of Topamax are less severe than those of Diamox.I also have fibro and I am also a mess.Do your doctors know what is causing all this with you? If not how long have you been feeling this way?I hate to pry but your story sounds so similar to mine and I would love to know more about what your doctors tell you and how they are managing your illness.
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Avatar_m_tn
Topomax?  Isn't that for seizures? My neuro did prescribe Lyrica..but after I read the side effects...I'm not sure if I should take it or not. One of the side effects could be weight gain or water retention. I'm already overweight and have mild diabetes. He prescribed this for my headaches and poor sleep. I also have fibromyalgia. I'm a mess LOL.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have been experiencing neck stiffness and have a red spot at the base of my skull that has a burning sensation as if acid has been poured on it. One doctor told me I have a bone spur on the base of my skull and prescribed anti-inflammatories but doesn't seem to be working. Can't sleep and I am crawling out of my skin please if anyone knows of anything that sounds similar please help
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Avatar_n_tn
I suffer from a very bad buring feeling on the back of my right side of my head, it travels down to my sinus area. I have been to the doctor and currently on Flinisolide nasal solution & Alocril eye drops. They kinda control my allergies but not the very painful burning feeling. Has anyone any advice for me as to how to make this stop or even what you advise me to try. Thanks
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Avatar_f_tn
i was struglin whit all these simptoms , so tired from apoitment to another apoitment, test  and doctors i give up ,i'm tired of been tired of been sick
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, My Name is Richard, from London in the UK.

I must stress the fact so many of us here have this problem with the Burning Pain across the scalp, behind our ears, at the base of our skulls etc and nothing yet is working is terrible!... I am 22 and lived with constant headaches now for almost 6 years. The burning pain began after 2 years of headaches and i have seen every good Neurologist here in the UK all over London and spent thousands on treatments from all over the place!...

Please can we all get in proper contact to try and sort this out. All of our lives are effected, personally i don't want to live anymore if the Doctors can't or won't be able to stop this irritating burning itching pain all over my head now!...

My direct email address is: ***@****

Please people email me and lets see what we can do together.

Best Wishes to you all, i am 22 and i cannot bare any of this anymore!
Richard
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Avatar_n_tn
NOTE: Has anyone found relief or an answer to the burning pains which cover the scalp and base of the skull??????......

Please Please get back to me,
Richard
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Avatar_n_tn
i hope i have an answer for women that have burning and itchy scalp. it is either low estrogen or high testerone.  i have research this for almost a year because i was brush off by doctors... i am going to the the doctor on friday to get hormones... if is going to kill thats ok... better that then not being able to function..  

jenny
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Avatar_n_tn
I too have suffered from headaches for years.  However, the past year my headaches have increased tremendously.  Out of a 7 day period, I now have a headache about 4-5 days.  My pain level usually starts at a dull 4 or 5, but then by the 2nd or 3rd day jumps to 7 to 9.  I have taken so many over the counter pain relievers that I think I am becoming immune to them, so I tend to take large doses.  I do however get relief from a neck and upper back message from my husband.  

My husband had a very serious motorcycle injury years ago that sent him to a chiropractor (sp?) for several months where he learned lots of message techniques to cure back pain and headaches.  

He lubricates my skin, messages my neck and back, then gently turns my head from side to side while pulling my head which stretches the muscles in my neck and back (sounds odd, but this really helps).  He can usually feel what we call "crunchies" in my neck.  This has gone on for a year.  I've been told these are caused by spasms, but noone has ever felt a spasm in my back.  Odd, but, with hubby able to give me short term relief, I've just learned to live with it.

However, today the headache changed and now I have a very painful burning sensation.  This new headached started at about a painlevel of 5 and within just a few hours, (now instead of days) it jumped to a 9.   The front-right side of my head started to burn from the inside out.  I've never experienced burning before.  

I was so afraid and in so much pain that I took 5 - 250mg aspirin to try to stop the pain.  Unfortunately, I think 5 aspirin is too much for me and I became very nauseous, but the headache and burning subsided within about 10-15 minutes.  However, after about another 40 minutes a milder burning sensation and headache returned.  It almost feels like the aspirin just masked the burning but that it's still there.  Now the burn has traveled to the back of my head, still mostly on the right to middle side.  I can feel what I can only describe as a "path of burn" from the right-front of my head to the back middle of my neck.  It is very very odd, I've never felt anything like this before.  I have a mild burn sensation behind my right ear.  I've heard stroke victims have 1 side of their body suffer injury...I wonder if its something like that???

It's 3:38AM and I'm just trying to stay calm to see if this goes away, but I really want to wake my husband and ask him to take me to the ER.  I hope I'm not making a big deal out of nothing.  I hate this, about 20 years ago I had a doctor tell me after complaining about headaches that I was a hypercondriach.  Now, I'm half afraid to go to a doctor for fear that maybe its all in my head (haha) but twenty years later and these headaches have just gotten worse and worse over time.

Actually, I can clearly remember only 1 time in my life when I was headache Free for a long period and that was when I was pregnant with my second child.  The whole time I remember talking about how I had not had a headache for months, which was very odd for me.  

Hmmm, I wonder if this is estrogen related as noted above by jenny5309.  I am only 38 and not in menopause (just had a baby last year), but don't estrogen levels increase when your pregnant??? I'm going to do some research on this and MAYBE tell my doctor.  I'll report back if I make any discoveries.

Okay,,well I feel better just writing about this and seeing there are others with this weird brain burn feeling.  



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Avatar_n_tn
"burning sensation at the back of my head"
At first i thought it was my head getting hot from my hat (i wear alot of hats). But then i noticed it started happening more often, and i wasnt wearing a hat. I don't know what this could be.. I did hear on someone's post that it could be STRESS. Stress could be a huge part of what's going on, but i still would like to know for sure. I will be making an appt with my Dr. I'll post if there's anything unusual going on with my health.
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Avatar_f_tn
Relax, anxiety might be the problem. Just try to relax when ever you feel the burning sensations. Try meditating on a daily basis and try breathing techniques several times a day. Take deep breaths and holthem for 5 seconds, slowly let go and relax your entire body. Try this several times and remember relax.
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Avatar_m_tn
Guys i hav had this awful burning/crawling skin feeling in the base of my skull on two occasions that completely stopped me in my tracks for 20min til the throbbing in my head subsided.It only occured after intense activity(gym work or making love).Had a spinal tap and that was clear.Medical team no idea what was going on.HOWEVER I HAVE A SYMPTOM NAME FOR YOU!Neurologist suggests it is a THUNDERCLAP HEADACHE.And this sums it up exactly!If you get these symptoms after intenese activity then PLEASE type this into your search engine as there are specialist forums for this.My symptoms include:Pounding in the head,burning sensation at base of skull together with prickly skin feeling,pounding behind eyes,ringing in ears,light intolerance and TOTAL incapacity whilst this episode is happening.Its something to do with the adrenalin gland.Cant give a you a cure but if you do get these type of headaches look at reducing the stress in your life and TAKE IT EASY.Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn

Lyme causes burning sensations in the body, and the brain.  It is notoriously difficult to diagnose (many people test negative on traditional lyme tests).  If you have low energy, some confusion, etc., please try to find a lyme literate doctor (they may be outside traditional medical establishment, although still an m.d.).  This cannot go untreated, as it will only get worse.  You don't have to have a bullseye rash (I didn't).  Please google neurological symptoms of lyme, and just general symptoms.  I have been to regular doctors, got an MRI and EEG and they told me nothing was wrong with me.  If you have lyme, something is seriously wrong, although it won't show up on regular tests always.  Hang in there and keep looking for answers for yourself.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I hve mostly pressure but sometimes I get the burning feeling and lately a sharp pain that comes up suddenly but
it goes away in a minute or so, unlike others I had a positive MRI 2 1/2 years ago of an aracknoid cyst in the right
central part of my brain, the neurologist didn't seem concerned. 8 months ago I had another MRI to check on the
cyst and now I have two, the second more on the right frontal lobe, I was given a water pill to take at night,acetazolamide, it seems to work but the pain strangely enough is still in the back of my head?  Sometimes it
feels like my head is getting tight  with pressure. Does anyone else have brain cysts?
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i have a burning sensation in my head and there is also some frequent pain in my head mainly focused on the right side most of the time, with my face also  being the centre of the pain.i feel the pain comes around startinf at the back of my head and when it starts i start seeing light visual lines and my eyes irritate and start paining as well...sometimes the pain just vanishes upon resting with lights off, with no sound and sometimes i need to take painkiller and sedativ, both simultaneously...the pain is gradually becoming very frequent and occurs after every 3 days....
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Avatar_f_tn
My burning sensation started about 4 month after i had a right vertebra artery aneurysm with rupture.it was trapped/coiled July 20th 2009.
when it ruptured it caused blood to pour through my neck into chest cavity and partially collapse my right lung. i had to have a chest tube in to drain blood off my lung and out of chest. we dont know what caused the aneurysm. drs say aneurysms in the vertebra arterys are very rare.
i was hoping to find a answer to the question what causes that burning sensation.i also have a old compression fracture with bone spurs at the c-7 vertebre in cervical spine.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have only had the burning sensation twice. I had an unrelenting headache, neck and ear pain for three weeks.  CT, xrays and blood tests were all good.  Got the mri results three days ago. Arnold Chiary type 1.  I'm so scared.  Going to see the neuroligist Monday. Get checked if you haven't already... its very serious.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have only had the burning sensation twice. I had an unrelenting headache, neck and ear pain for three weeks.  CT, xrays and blood tests were all good.  Got the mri results three days ago. Arnold Chiary type 1.  I'm so scared.  Going to see the neuroligist Monday. Get checked if you haven't already... its very serious.
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Avatar_f_tn
Something interesting.  Found out today that the chiari birth defect may be related to the fact that my dad was exposed to agent orange before I was conceived.  I called the VA office and they told me that the only birth defect that the US govt agrees is caused by agent orange is spina bifita and anything related to that.  If you've got proof, the govt pays your surgery costs and compensates you monetarily.  Anyone else ever hear this before?
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I would never suggest Topamax after MY experience with it. .I regularly have migraine, tension, the burning in the back of the top of my brain... and about once a year, cluster..I have had them for 26 years. But this medication took them away....like a miracle... But also the side effects were SO bad, I was deathly ill. It felt like I was at death's door all the time....  Bad Tremors, loss of thinking ability...(Couldn't figure things out), weakness, tiredness, sick stomach all the time. There more side effects too, but these were the worst. Maybe someone else wouldn't have these side effects. I gave it a really good try....for almost a year, hoping my body would get used to this medication., then I went off it. My Headaches were better than the "cure".
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had these symptoms fer quite some time too, been under alot of stress do to losing my job after 9 years due to the economy and that my wife went through a battle with cancer.The only thing that ever releieved the symtoms (symptoms) were a back adjustment and mostly that my wife literally dug her knuckles right up under my shoulder blades, and in doing that i could feel the preasure being released and the burning stopped.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have burning headaches and shooting pains down my back 24/7 for a year or more. No relief from any meds except 7+ strength opiates which I am now certainly addicted to as I tolerate the dosages more and more. Don't have recognizable symptoms of any standard type of headache. Done all the tests...all negative. Have yet to check CSF for pathogens, pressure etc but that's the next step. I am pretty much bedridden at 22 and losing hope. It all started with a period of mild mood swings, depression and anxiety. With the downswings came a short headache. Was put on lamictal and synthroid and moods improved but headache worsened. Went off lamictal and moods were no longer an issue but the headaches just got worse and worse. Autoimmune diseases negative, adrenals ok, allergies ok. cervical nerves ok. Does anyone have any good news?
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Avatar_n_tn
I get the burning sensation from the middle of my head down to the base of my skull, sometimes it goes from the top of my head. I get this occasionally and have done for years. It came this week when I'd taken some strong antibiotics...it's strange because I tend to get it when I have strong medication and in the past when I drink spirits..is it a sensitivity reaction?? when I mentioned it to my GP he didn't take it very seriously so I don't want to mention again in fear of being labelled a hypochondriac
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1394203_tn?1280291748
i got woke up in the middle of the night with this burning feeling in my brain the only thing that made it feel better was sitting up every time i laid my head down an put any type of pressure on it i would get the burning back
  i have Chiari Fibro an dx with migraines but i have NEVER had this before an it really worried me because ive always been able to lay down with a headache r migraine an few hrs later feel relief but this i had to stay sitting up an not lean on anything with my neck to keep the burning away
  has anyone ever had that before? its like really freakin me out it finally got better that night id say about 15hrs later
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Avatar_m_tn
I injured my head.  People listen.  Ladies do you wear head bands? Men, ball caps?  I actually had a headband on and my eye glasses.  I suddenly got a headache and my head hurt so bad I thought it was a stroke. I ripped off my headband and glasses and felt like vomiting. My head burns at the base of my skull up to the top of my head. If I put pressure on my head it feels like it is going to crack open.  What happened stretched and pushed down on my muscles on my skull and within the muscles are tiny nerves. It has never gone away. My skull actually shifts when I dropp my shoulders. I think it is due to pulling on the muscles that are stuck and pressed down on my head.  Try lifting and dropping your shoulders just to see if it makes a difference.  I actually cut my own blood flow off by a headband and glasses and I've been in misery ever since.  I even get blood red eyes now and my vision is bad.  Reading is mostly blurry. My ears ring and noise bothers me when I drop my shoulders.  I even have a large hump on the top of my head but when I drop my shoulders it goes down.  Remember Muscles are on your skull and if they mess up all the nerve bundles miss fire and causes burning.  Only thing that will help is anti seizure medication for the burning.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi everyone i have the same symtoms (symptoms) for 3 months now yesterday i went to see the doc after i had my bp tested 2 times allready and it was normal he test it on my right arm and it was normal but when the doc took it in the left arm it was 180/110 that is very high and he gave me pills for it and i feel a little beter today maybe its the same maybe not but its wourth a try i know the burning headache is bad and i got it after heavy flu sorry for my english hope this helps you
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, Concussion related pain? or PANIC was started.
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Avatar_f_tn
I got that burning in the back of my head and my neurologist said it was a migraine. I ended up geting a nerve block shot on the back of my head and now I'm great no migraine!! I do get burning on the base of my neck and that is caused by stress!!
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