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June 20, 2017 | Neurology
Occipital neuralgia is a condition with which sufferers experience a chronic ache at the base of the skull resulting in shooting pain on the scalp, and it’s just one of several chronic pain conditions related to headaches. Estimates indicate that up to 5 percent of the population worldwide suffers from some kind of chronic headache, including cluster headaches and migraines, along with occipital neuralgia.
In many of these cases, patients can use a procedure called an occipital nerve block as treatment. This is a minimally invasive treatment that can help patients with varying levels of chronic pain.
These kinds of chronic pain are caused by signals sent to the brain that are perceived as headache pain, and the purpose of an occipital nerve block is to inhibit or block a disproportionate amount of these signals. It’s a simple, safe procedure done with very little intrusion. Steps of the process include:
Some people may feel numbness and the results of the treatment right away, but others may take a day or longer in some cases. There are a few limited side effects that are possible after an occipital nerve block, including:
Some patients will require multiple injections in quick succession for optimal effects. In most cases, an occipital nerve block should be effective against pain for a month or more.
Occipital nerve blocks can be an effective treatment for people with moderate to severe chronic pain, and who have tried alternative treatment methods without success. They’ve had an effect on various types of headache, including throbbing pain, sharp pain, reverberating pain and burning pain—each of which are conditions linked to pain that originates in the occipital nerve.
Examples of conditions that may fall under this type of chronic pain include:
Occipital nerve blocks can also be effective for pain associated with head trauma, and has been useful in helping diagnose headache types.
If you’re dealing with chronic headache pain and have tried other treatment methods without success, your doctor may suggest occipital nerve blocks if they are right for you depending on your specific diagnosis.
“Occipital Nerve Block.” PainDoctor.com. https://paindoctor.com/treatments/occipital-nerve-block/
“What is Occipital Neuralgia?” PainDoctor.com. https://paindoctor.com/conditions/occipital-neuralgia/
“Nerve Blocks.” Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/nerve-blocks
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.