Occipital Neuralgia

Conditions | Interventional Pain Doctors California

What is it?

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is caused by injured or inflamed occipital nerves that run in the back of the scalp. Typically it presents with a headache that causes piercing pain in the back of the neck or head.

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Nerve pain occurs when a nerve is physically injured, irritated, inflamed, or damaged due to a disease. Many health conditions can lead to nerve pain, including:

  1. Osteoarthritis of the upper cervical spine
  2. Trauma, especially a motor vehicle accident
  3. Cervical disc degeneration

This condition is a distinct type of headache caused by irritation or injury of the occipital nerves. These nerves travel from the base of the skull through the scalp. This condition can result in severe pain and muscle spasms.


Intense, sharp, jabbing pain in the back of the head or neck. Other symptoms you may experience include:

  • Electric-shock like pain
  • Aching or burning pain
  • Pain that travels on both sides of your head from the base of the skull forward, above the ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Pain with neck movement


The Interventional Pain Doctors team of orthopedic and spine pain management specialists can diagnose occipital neuralgia during a comprehensive history and physical examination. In addition, we may also request diagnostic tests such as an MRI, X-ray, or CT.


  • Oral medications
  • Occipital nerve blocks
  • Botox injections
  • Surgery

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