Occipital neuralgia is a distinct type of headache characterized by piercing, throbbing, or an electric-shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of the head, or behind the ears. This condition occurs when the occipital nerves, the nerves that run through the scalp, are injured or inflamed due to trauma to the back of the head, pinching of the nerves, or other types of lesions in the neck.
Non-surgical treatments include heat therapy, massage or physical therapy, oral medication and nerve blocks. If non-surgical treatments don’t relieve pain, one may utilize spinal cord stimulation, a surgical treatment that involves the placement of stimulating electrodes between the spinal cord and the vertebrae.
Occipital neuralgia can cause intense pain that feels like a sharp, piercing, electric shock in the back of the head and neck. Other symptoms include:
- Aching, burning and throbbing pain that starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp
- Pain behind the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Tender scalp
- Pain when moving the neck
Occipital neuralgia can be the result of pinched nerves or muscle tightness in the neck, usually caused by a head or neck injury. Other causes include:
- Cervical disc disease
- Osteoarthritis of the upper cervical spine
- Trauma to the occipital nerves
- Compression of the occipital nerves
- Blood vessel inflammation
There are several ways to lessen the pain or get rid of it completely. Treatment can include:
- Medial branch block
- Selective nerve root block
- Sympathetic nerve block
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Physical therapy
We understand that each patient’s pain is unique. Therefore, the treatment recommended to each patient will be personalized to fit their condition and lifestyle. Our multi-disciplinary team of physicians offers advanced interventional and minimally-invasive techniques to help treat chronic, complex pain. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your concerns and what treatment options might be right for you!