OCCIPITAL NERVE BLOCK INJECTIONS
CHRONIC PAIN RELIEF DOCTOR
Occipital Nerve Block Injections for Pain
The Pain Relief Center in Plano, Texas offers Occipital Nerve Block Injections to help fight chronic pain as well as migraines. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What is an Occipital Nerve Block?
An occipital nerve block is a pain relief treatment that involves injecting a steroid or other medication around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that exist on the back of the head above the neck area, and is also performed to diagnose and treat certain types of head pain. Many people with chronic headaches/migraines report that their symptoms often arise from the neck, or the base of the skull. This is where the occipital nerves lie, and inflammation of these nerves can lead to a specific type of pain that is referred to as “occipital neuralgia.” This condition is easily and often confused with migraine headaches, since the symptoms are very similar. However, occipital neuralgia is a very distinct type of disorder that requires an accurate diagnoses in order to be treated effectively.
The occipital nerves are located at the base of the neck and run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp. There are two occipital nerves on each side of the head which supply feeling to the posterior scalp from the top portion of the neck up to the crown of the head. Dysfunction of the occipital nerves can cause pain to radiate forward to the temporal area and can also radiate down the neck to the shoulders or trapezius. The pain can often be one sided and may include:
A throbbing, aching or burning pain that begins at the base of the neck and radiates to the scalp
Pain sensations on one or both sides of the head
Experiencing pain behind the eye or eyes
Pain experienced when moving the neck
How is it done?
An occipital nerve block works to control pain by reducing the swelling and inflammation around the occipital nerves. During an occipital nerve block, about a teaspoon of local anesthetic and steroids are injected into the scalp where the trunk of the nerve is. The injection is done at the back of the head, just above the neck. The skin is numbed before the injection is done. A very fine needle is used for the nerve block. If the injection has been well located, the scalp on that side of the head will go numb quickly. Pain relief can be felt sometimes within minutes. The doctor may ask what the patient is feeling in terms of his or her symptoms.
What should I expect?
If there is a lot of swelling in the nerve, the steroids will relieve the pain of that. The full effect of the steroids may not be felt for two or three days. Their effect is more long lasting — sometimes weeks or months. After an occipital nerve block, a patient can usually drive home and return to normal daily activities the following day. The effects of the local anesthetic may wear off in a few hours, but the effects of the steroid begin to increase over the next several days. The best responses to an occipital nerve block usually come from patients whose pain is relatively recent rather than long-standing. If the first occipital nerve block doesn’t relieve the patient’s symptoms in a week or two, it may be necessary to have a second injection. Additional nerve blocks may be done to keep the symptoms under control. While occipital nerve blocks are not for everyone, for some, they can prove to significantly control and mediate their chronic pain.