Occipital Neuralgia

What is Occipital Neuralgia?

Occipital Neuralgia is a distinct type of headache characterized by piercing, throbbing, or electric-shock-like chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head, and behind the ears, usually on one side of the head. Typically, the pain  begins in the neck and then spreads upwards.

 


What Are The Symptoms?

This condition can cause intense pain that feels like a sharp, jabbing, electric shock in the back of the head and neck. This condition can also be characterized as aching, burning, and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp.

Pain can be located on one or both sides of the head, behind the eyes. A person may be sensitive to light and scalp may be tender to touch. With this condition there is often pain when moving the neck.

What Are The Causes?

Occipital neuralgia happens when there’s pressure or irritation to your occipital nerves, possibly because of an injury, tight muscles that entrap the nerves, or inflammation. Often times, doctors can’t find a cause for this condition.

What Are The Treatments?

The first thing you’ll want to do is to relieve your pain. Sometimes applying heat to the neck or resting in a quiet room helps ease the symptoms of occipital neuralgia. Massage over the neck muscles can also be helpful. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs: ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve some of the pain. Other medications used to treat occipital neuralgia include muscle relaxers and anti-seizure drugs.

Nerve blocks and steroid shots. The nerve block that your doctor might do to diagnose your condition can be a short-term treatment, too. It may take two to three shots over several weeks to get control of your pain. It’s not uncommon for the problem to return at some point, requiring another series of injections.