Occipital Neuralgia Relief

Definition: Occipital neuralgia/neuritis headache is pain or discomfort located usually in the back of the head, scalp, or neck regions and caused by abnormalities of the occipital nerve or the spinal cord, nerves, joints, muscles or ligaments of the neck.

Occipital Neuralgia Information

Occipital Neuralgia/ Occipital Neuritis: The greater occipital nerve is the main nerve that serves the back of the head or the scalp. This nerve, located on each side of the base of the skull, arises from the roots of the nerves of the upper-most portion of the spinal cord inside of the spinal column. The occipital nerves provide sensation and muscular strength to the muscles in the scalp at the back of the head behind the ears. If the occipital nerves become inflamed or injured, severe pain may radiate into the back of the head and even be referred to the front of the head and behind the eyes. The occipital nerves may be directly traumatized such as from a football helmet, stretched as in a whiplash type of injury, or become inflamed after a viral infection or other inflammatory condition of the body. Injuries to the cervical spine may also damage the roots of the occipital nerves in the neck, causing radiation of pain along the course of the occipital nerve. Headache pain due to occipital neuralgia is typically constant sharp and shooting pain, aggravated by movements of the head or neck and associated with severe tenderness over the base of the skull. While occipital neuralgia may occur at any age, in males or females, most cases of occipital neuralgia occurs in younger and older adults. Headaches due to occipital neuralgia headaches are not usually associated with nausea, vomiting, visual or hearing changes, and auras and are usually not precipitated by the triggers that result in migraine headaches.

Occipital Neuralgia Treatments

Of course, for headaches that are suspected to be a result of any of the life-threatening causes noted above, emergency services (911) should be contacted immediately. However, treatments of headaches due to benign causes vary and depend on the type of headache. Occipital neuralgia/occipital neuritis, tension headache pain, and cervicogenic headache pain may be improved with a change in lifestyle, a reduction of work hours, a change in type of work environment, relaxation techniques, or improved rest and regular moderate exercise. Physical therapy and nerve injections are sometimes used to control headache pain due to occipital neuralgia/neuritis. Headache pain due to occipital neuralgia/occipital neuritis pain may require injections of steroids into the occipital nerve or cervical facet joints. Sometimes treatment of the underlying condition in the neck such as a surgical correction of a damaged disc and decompression of the spinal cord or nerve roots is required.

The standard treatments for moderate to severe or acute or chronic headache pain are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication. As most patients who suffer with this type of headache pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many headache sufferers often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications.

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