What is Occipital Neuralgia?

Occipital NeuralgiaNeuralgia is a pain due to a damaged or irritated nerve. Occipital Neuralgia occurs when occipital nerves, which are located where the skull and neck meet, become inflamed or injured. As a result of the inflammation or injury, one may experience severe pain. These nerves run from the base of the skull along either side of the head. This pain may be predominantly experienced behind the eyes and at the base of the skull. However, it is not uncommon to experience pain throughout the scalp and to the neck. This pain does not typically include the face or ears. These symptoms can be overlooked; as they resemble pain caused by headaches or migraines. It is important to bring any of these symptoms to the attention of your medical provider; as the treatment for Occipital Neuralgia is different than treatment for headaches or migraines. Since the treatment differs it is important to receive the proper diagnosis. Occipital Neuralgia is a condition that should be taken seriously, diagnosed, and treated by a professional medical provider.

Symptoms

  • Neck pain: This pain originates at the base of the skull and is intense or unbearable.
  • Pain behind the eye/s: This can result in sensitivity to light
  • Scalp/Head Pain: Pain or tenderness throughout the scalp, may cause sensitivity to touch.
  • Severe Pain: This pain may feel sharp, shocking (electric), aching, throbbing, burning, etc.

Causes

Occipital Neuralgia can be caused by conditions such as; neck tension, whiplash, pinched nerve, osteoarthritis, cervical disc disease, blood vessel inflammation, gout, diabetes, and infection. These are only some possible reasons one may experience Occipital Neuralgia. In some cases, the cause is unable to be identified.

Treatment

Treatments can include but are not excluded to pain medication, nerve blocks, physical therapy, and in some cases surgical interventions may be necessary. In some patients, occipital nerve stimulation has provided some relief. Please talk to your medical provider to determine which course of action will be best for you.

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