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Occipital Neuralgia Specialist

Daniel Loder, MD

Pain Management & Orthobiologic Treatment located in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, CA, & Torrance, CA

Occipital neuralgia is a chronic condition that causes searing headaches and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you're affected by the pain of occipital neuralgia, double board-certified pain specialist Daniel Loder, MD, and his team can help. At their offices in Beverly Hills, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach, California, they provide a range of effective treatments, including nerve blocks, steroid injections, and neurostimulation. To find out more or schedule a consultation, call the Los Angeles area office nearest you today or use the online form to book an appointment.

Occipital Neuralgia

What is occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is a certain type of headache that spreads from your neck up behind your ears and into the back of your head. The pain is typically piercing and might feel like an electric shock going up one side of your head.

You might also feel pain radiating into your scalp and forehead and throbbing behind your eyes. As well as being painful, your eyes are likely to become light-sensitive, and your scalp could feel tender to touch.

Although the pain it causes is often intense and disabling, occipital neuralgia isn't a dangerous condition. The pain you experience is coming from the nerve itself rather than signaling a serious problem in your neck or head.

What causes occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia results from specific nerves suffering damage or coming under pressure. The greater and lesser occipital nerves originate in your neck and go up the back of your head. Trauma or pressure affecting these nerves could be due to a variety of causes, including:

  • Tight neck muscles
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tumors or other neck lesions 
  • Localized infection
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)

Occipital neuralgia can also develop if you spend a lot of time with your head bent forward and downward. Sometimes, there's no apparent cause for occipital neuralgia.

The symptoms of occipital neuralgia are a good indication that you have this condition. The Daniel Loder, MD, team can verify your diagnosis with the use of a nerve block containing a local anesthetic. If the nerve block injection relieves your pain, it confirms the diagnosis.

How is occipital neuralgia treated?

Treatments for occipital neuralgia focus on relieving the pressure on your occipital nerves and reducing pain and inflammation.

To ease the immediate pain, you can apply a hot compress and use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Rest quietly and give yourself a neck massage if your neck muscles are tight.

Prescription muscle relaxants and anti-seizure drugs like carbamazepine and gabapentin can ease the symptoms of occipital neuralgia. Physical therapy and professional massage therapy could be useful for relieving nerve pressure.

Your physical therapist can also teach you how to do chin tucks to stretch the soft tissues and strengthen your muscles.

Orthobiologic treatments could help heal soft tissues in your neck that are causing nerve compression.

What are the advanced treatment options for occipital neuralgia?

The Daniel Loder, MD, team can use nerve blocks and steroid injections to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. You might need several injections over a couple of weeks to get your occipital neuralgia pain under control.

They can also perform occipital nerve stimulation. This procedure involves using a neurostimulator device to send electrical pulses to your occipital nerves. Neurostimulation helps to prevent pain messages from reaching your brain.

To get expert relief from the agony of occipital neuralgia, call Daniel Loder, MD, today and schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.