If you may have painful, chronic headaches that are likely to originate behind your head, it is best to get checked out for occipital neuralgia. This condition is typically confused with migraines or tension headaches since overlapping symptoms exist. Read on to learn more about occipital neuralgia and how one can treat it.
What Is Occipital Neuralgia?
Behind your head, you may have a trapezoidal-shaped bone called the occipital bone. Nerves that run through this area are called the occipital nerves. Sometimes, these nerves can change into inflamed or injured, thus causing occipital neuralgia. A neuralgia is pain that follows the trail of a damaged nerve. This pain often looks like a pointy electrical shock.
Other symptoms of occipital neuralgia include:
- A young scalp
- A sensitivity to light
- Pain if you move your head
- Pain behind your eyes
- Burning or throbbing pain that originates at the bottom of your skull
If you may have any of those symptoms, speak to your doctor.
What Causes It and How Is It Diagnosed?
Many causes of occipital neuralgia exist. You could possibly have a pre-existing medical condition, like diabetes, that might make you more susceptible to developing occipital neuralgia. Inflammatory conditions, like gout or osteoarthritis, may also cause occipital neuralgia as a side effect.
If you happen to are stressed or hold tension in your back or neck, you may also develop occipital neuralgia. Injuries, like whiplash, can strain the supporting tissues in your neck and head, thus increasing the danger of nerve inflammation.
Even when you may have most of those symptoms, it is best to get checked out by a pain management clinic to substantiate the diagnosis since, again, occipital neuralgia can have similar symptoms to other conditions.
A physician will likely perform a physical exam to see if the back of your head is tender. She or he may provide you with a shot to numb the irritated nerves. If you happen to find relief with a numbing agent to nerves behind your neck and across the base of your skull, then occipital neuralgia is a probable explanation for your symptoms.
How Can You Manage the Pain of Occipital Neuralgia?
If the occipital neuralgia is from an injury, then massage therapy, physical therapy, and rest will be the only things mandatory for a full recovery. Nevertheless, if occipital neuralgia is from a secondary condition, chances are you’ll need to search out other ways to administer your pain. Find out about just a number of things you’ll be able to try which will help.
Nerve Block Injections
Some pain clinics offer regular sessions for nerve block injections. These injections contain a longacting anesthetic and a steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. The goal of those injections is to interrupt or block the pain signals that travel up the nerves.
It’s possible you’ll experience a short lived discomfort through the injections, but this could pass because the medications start working. While every patient is different, a nerve block injection could manage your pain for a number of days, weeks, or months.
It’s possible you’ll already know that Botox could be used for migraines, but they will also be used for pain related to occipital neuralgia. One study showed that while Botox didn’t help participants with pins-and-needles pain or dull pain, however it did help participants with sharp/shooting type pain that’s common in occipital neuralgia.
If you happen to aren’t keen on injections, chances are you’ll want to think about cervical decompression. Occipital nerve inflammation may very well be from nerve compression. During a spinal decompression, a pain clinic skilled or chiropractor can gently adjust your cervical spine to cut back pressure.
Contact Specialists in Pain Management to learn more about occipital neuralgia and how one can manage any pain chances are you’ll experience from this condition.