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Could Your Head Pain Stem from Occipital Neuralgia?

You’ve developed blinding headaches. They’re so bad that you’ve had to take time off from work. It’s almost impossible to get through the day. You may have already been treated for migraine headaches, but the treatment didn’t provide relief. You need a proper diagnosis quickly. 

Your pain may be from occipital neuralgia 

You could have occipital neuralgia. If you do have this condition, the pain is coming from irritated nerves in your neck. You have three occipital nerves in the second and third vertebrae of your neck. They travel from your spinal cord all the way up into your scalp on each side of your head. Nerves have painful ways of letting you know they’re compressed or inflamed. 

Daniel Loder, MD, board-board certified pain management physician, sees patients with occipital neuralgia frequently. Your primary care physician can refer you to our practice when they believe you need treatment from a pain management specialist. 

Symptoms of occipital neuralgia 

Some of the symptoms of occipital neuralgia could be mistaken for migraine headaches, but the two conditions are treated differently and have different etiologies. Following are common symptoms of occipital neuralgia

What causes occipital neuralgia?

How did you get these blinding headaches? If you’ve had a head or neck injury, that may have been the precipitating factor. If your neck muscles are tight from stress, you may have a pinched nerve that’s causing the pain. Occipital neuralgia can even be caused by a habit: keeping your head forward and downward, which you may do inadvertently when working on the computer, for example. 

Occipital neuralgia is also associated with a number of medical conditions

Treatment for occipital neuralgia 

Dr. Loder uses non-pharmacological treatments in his practice. To confirm occipital neuralgia, he performs a nerve block; you’ll have a local anesthetic for pain when he injects a steroid to calm nerve inflammation. If the nerve block relieves the pain, the diagnosis is correct. You may need more than one nerve block to help quell your discomfort. 

Dr. Loder may decide your occipital neuralgia requires nerve stimulation. He performs a trial to see if this method improves your pain. Wires placed just under your skin are attached to a battery outside your body that sends pulses to the affected nerves. If this helps, a device can be implanted in your chest, abdomen, or back that sends pulses that disrupt the pain signals so that they don’t reach your brain.  

Call Daniel Loder, MD, or book an appointment online today for expert pain management. We help you regain your quality of life. 

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