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Occipital Neuralgia

Advanced Pain Management

Pain Management Serving the Greater Phoenix Area and Tucson, AZ

Occipital neuralgia causes an ongoing burning, aching, or throbbing sensation that runs from the base of your head up into your scalp. Vikramjeet (Vik) Saini, MD, and David Delatte, MD, at Advanced Pain Management specialize in diagnosing and treating difficult-to-diagnose pain conditions like occipital neuralgia. To find out what’s causing your chronic head pain, call one of the 10 offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Chandler, Surprise, Mesa, or Glendale, Arizona, or use the online scheduling tool to make an appointment today.

Occipital Neuralgia

What is occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is a painful condition that develops from an injury or inflammation of the occipital nerve. 

The occipital nerves are the primary sensory nerves for the back and top of your scalp. They run from the upper portion of your cervical spine through the back of your head into your scalp on both sides.

Occipital neuralgia may develop from compression of the nerve or muscle tightness in the neck. You can also develop occipital neuralgia from a head injury or an underlying health condition such as osteoarthritis, cervical disc disease, or diabetes.

What are the symptoms of occipital neuralgia?

With occipital neuralgia, you may have an ongoing burning, aching, or throbbing sensation that starts at the base of your head and radiates up into your scalp on one or both sides of your head. 

You may also feel intermittent electric-shock-like sensations along the same path, or the pain may shoot forward, causing painful sensations behind your eye. 

Many people with occipital neuralgia find that their scalp is more sensitive to the touch, causing extreme flare-ups in pain even with a light touch. 

Symptoms of occipital neuralgia are similar to migraines and cluster headaches, which makes getting an accurate diagnosis difficult. If you have radiating head pain with no clear diagnosis, Advanced Pain Management can help.

How is occipital neuralgia diagnosed?

There’s no single test for diagnosing occipital neuralgia. When you visit Advanced Pain Management for help managing your chronic head pain, the team conducts a physical and neurological exam.

They may also request magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans of your head and neck to evaluate the structures and look for irritation or impingement of your occipital nerve that might explain your symptoms. 

The team may also perform an occipital nerve block to confirm or rule out occipital neuralgia.

How is occipital neuralgia treated?

Treatment for occipital neuralgia focuses on finding the best treatment to alleviate your symptoms and may include nonsurgical or surgical options.

Nonsurgical treatments

Initially, the team takes a nonsurgical approach when treating your occipital neuralgia. Your plan may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, or nerve pain medication.

The team may also provide additional nerve blocks or botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections to alleviate your symptoms.  

Surgical treatments

Surgical treatments for occipital neuralgia may include placement of a spinal cord stimulator or surgery to decompress the greater occipital nerve, known as occipital release surgery. 

Advanced Pain Management wants nothing more than to provide effective and innovative solutions for your chronic pain condition. Call the office most convenient to you or book an appointment online today.