Occipital Neuralgia Causes, Symptoms and Solutions
When your neck muscles tighten or you have a pinched nerve, you may experience occipital neuralgia. This condition also results from an injury to the neck or head and may present as a primary or secondary condition.
It’s important to note that the exact causes of occipital neuralgia aren’t always easy to pinpoint. However, if you have chronic neck tension, that may result in pain and discomfort associated with a tenderness at the back of the skull.
Causes of Occipital Neuralgia
Underlying causes that can contribute to occipital neuralgia include the following:
- Upper cervical osteoarthritis
- Trauma to the occipital nerves
- Compression of the greater and lesser C2 or C3 nerve roots
- Cervical disc disease
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Tumors affecting the nerve
Not all cases indicate a serious condition. In fact, the pain and other symptoms typically dissipate on their own.
Occipital Neuralgia Symptoms
The main symptom of occipital neuralgia includes intense pain resembling an electric shock to the back of the head or neck. Common symptoms also include the following:
- Sensitivity to light
- Pain behind the eye
- Pain on one or both sides of head
- Tender scalp
- Throbbing pain at the base of the head
- Pain when you move your neck
Dr. Lewis is an accomplished neurosurgeon who offers comprehensive pain management and medical and surgical solutions for occipital neuralgia. He belongs to several professional organizations, including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and has pioneered several advanced treatment options.
Treatment of Occipital Neuralgia
You can try some home remedies to relieve the pain. However, make an appointment at Jackson Neurosurgeon Clinic if the symptoms get worse or persist for several days. Treatment options that you can do at home include the following:
- Massage your neck muscles in the back of the head
- Apply heat to the affected area
- Rest in a dark, quiet room
Before taking over the counter or anti-inflammatory drugs, speak with your physician for a recommendation.
For more severe symptoms, contact Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic to make an appointment. We understand how uncomfortable and debilitating head and neck pain can be. For some patients, Dr. Lewis may prescribe one of the following medications:
- Muscle relaxants
- Antiseizure drugs (Tegretol or Neurontin)
Steroid Shots or Nerve Blocks
A nerve block helps the doctor understand the severity of your condition and provides short-term relief. You may need more than one shot administered over several weeks before the pain is under control. Some clients require several series of these injections.
Do You Need Surgery for Occipital Neuralgia?
If the pain continues, surgery may be required. Although surgery can seem like a daunting prospect, Dr. Lewis has built a reputation as one of the best neurosurgeons in the country. He teaches and lectures on conditions and procedures related to the nervous system and has many years of experience conducting delicate surgery to help his patients.
Dr. Lewis can adjust blood vessels compressing the nerve to relieve the pain. Alternatively, occipital nerve stimulation uses electrical pulses to block pain messages from the nerve to your brain.
Make an Appointment for Occipital Neuralgia Treatment
Occipital neuralgia is not considered life threatening, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, pain related to occipital neuralgia can disrupt your day and make it hard to conduct everyday tasks. At Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, we provide multiple treatment methods to help relieve the symptoms of this condition. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding your condition and treatment options.
Call (601) 366-1011 to book an appointment with Dr. Lewis and discuss treatment options for occipital neuralgia. We’ll find a solution that works for you.