Headaches cause debilitating pain. You can’t concentrate when your head hurts. It affects your whole quality of life. That’s why you shouldn’t wait to get treated, especially if over-the-counter painkillers don’t work. At Pain Management in NY, you can get an occipital nerve block or even an occipital nerve block for a migraine if that turns out to be the source of your pain. Whatever the cause, a team of pain experts is ready to help. Call today!
Occipital neuralgia is a type of headache that gives you pain in the back of your head, in your upper neck and behind your ears. The pain often originates in your neck and travels upward. It typically affects only one side of your head. But it is treatable, often through an occipital nerve block procedure.
Occipital neuralgia can occur either as a primary or secondary headache. A primary headache delivers pain independent of underlying causes. A secondary headache results as a side effect of another cause. What you think is a chronic tension headache, a migraine headache or a cervicogenic headache may instead be occipital neuralgia. Causes include:
- Cervical disk disease
- Inflammation of your blood vessels
- Compression of your greater or lesser occipital nerves
Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia
You have two occipital nerves: one on each side of your head. When either nerve is irritated, you feel a shooting or tingling pain. Your scalp becomes sensitive to even the lightest touch, making normal tasks like brushing, washing, or combing your hair intolerable. Eye sensitivity is another symptom of occipital neuralgia.
Symptoms of occipital neuralgia resemble a migraine’s symptoms. The pain starts at the base of your skull and travels close to the back or the side of your scalp. If you have a limited range of motion in your neck due to pain or if moving your neck in certain ways causes a headache, you may be suffering from occipital neuralgia or a cervicogenic headache.
The symptoms of occipital neuralgia include headaches that involve:
- Aching pain
- Burning pain
- Throbbing pain
- Intermittent shooting pain
Risk Factors for Occipital Neuralgia
These headaches affect both children and adults. Women get them about three times more frequently than men. While their intensity varies by individual, the risk factors for the condition include:
- Getting too little or too much sleep
- Being unusually affected by strong scents or odors
- Feeling assaulted by bright lights, such as at a concert
- Under too much emotional, physical or mental stress
- Over-exerting yourself physically
- Low blood sugar
- Being a smoker
- Suffering from depression
- Changes in your hormones
- Too much caffeine
- Withdrawal from caffeine
- Consuming processed meats
Visit your nearby New York pain center to find out exactly what’s causing your headaches. If it turns out to be occipital neuralgia, you can get effective treatment to relieve the pain. The best pain management doctors in New York diagnose and treat this condition and many others, as well.
Treatment for Occipital Neuralgia
Your top rated New York pain management doctor typically recommends treating your symptoms first to get you out of pain fast. Conservative, non-invasive treatment methods — like warm compresses, physical therapy, and massage — are often the first things to try. More aggressive treatments target the source of the pain in your neck but focus on your symptoms. These include:
- Occipital nerve blocks. Your doctor administers this nerve block via a small needle into the area of the affected nerves. An occipital neuralgia nerve block contains a long-lasting local anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroidal drug. Pain relief occurs about 15 minutes after the injection and can last for as long as a few months.
- For short-term relief of the headache pain from occipital neuralgia, your pain doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications like muscle relaxers. Medication isn’t usually recommended for long-term pain relief.
- Lifestyle modifications. If certain foods, loud noises or bright lights trigger your headaches, take steps to avoid them. This may be the simplest solution, if it works, once you get used to the lifestyle changes you have to make.
- Sleep more. Get between seven to eight hours of sleep every night if you want to stop your headaches. Getting enough rest allows your body to heal and recover from the stressors that cause your headaches.
- Moderate exercise. Exercising is a good treatment for occipital neuralgia when done consistently and moderately. Don’t overdo it, as that can cause headaches.
At Pain Management NYC, the most trusted and respected pain specialists in New York are waiting to help you uncover the source of your pain. When it’s treated correctly, you can get back to a pain-free life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Leon Reyfman, MD, is a top-rated, best-in-class interventional pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New York City and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.
Dr. Leon Reyfman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New York” and one of “America’s Top Doctors™” for advanced sports injury treatments. Among other accolades, he was voted by peers as a “Castle Connolly Top Doctors™” and “New York Super Doctors™”. Dr. Leon Reyfman was a part of the medical team at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.