Occipital Nerve Explained
What is an Occipital nerve block?
An Occipital nerve block is an injection of numbing medicine next to the Occipital nerves. They are located in either side of the scalp originating at the Neck. There is both a Greater and Lesser Occipital Nerve. Either one can produce pain. Neither has a motor function (Only sensory).
The injection is designed to stop the pain traveling along these nerves, which can lead to:
- Occipital Neuralgia
- Cervicogenic Headaches
What are the Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia?
- Pain in one or both sides of the head
- Tender Scalp
- Aching, burning throbbing pain.
- May be described a sharp or electrical shock in back of neck and head.
Diagnostic and Therapeutic purpose.
The injections have both a Diagnostic and Therapeutic purpose. They can help tell the doctor what is going on. They can also provide pain relief for a while.
Who benefits from an Occipital nerve block?
Those who suffer with Neuralgia would benefit from Occipital with pain on one side of the back of the head benefit the most. Also people who suffer from migraines regularly can benefit from this nerve block treatment.
Headache caused by the neck
Cervicogenic headaches by definition is any headache caused by the neck. Typically one sided. And cluster headaches which is one of the most painful headache types.
How is the procedure performed?
Quick procedure, can be done in the office in a few minutes. There is no need for sedation. The pain doctor feels point of maximal tenderness at base of skull. Doctor then moves the needle to inject both the nerve areas with numbing medicine with or without steroids.
How well does the procedure work?
For such a quick and low risk procedure, the Occipital nerve block works very effectively for deviating pain. Pain relief within minutes most of the time. For Cervicogenic headaches, studies show a 50-90% response rate averaging 77 days. A 85% response rate 4 weeks to 4 months of both Cluster headaches and Occipital Neuralgia. Can expect a 60% response rate averaging 4-5 weeks for Migraines.
What about when the pain relief wears off.
Once the relief wears off the procedure can be repeated with expectation of the same outcome. Repeating procedure works very well. Pulsed or regular RF ablation is a great procedure. There is no large studies available, but small ones show it works well.
What are the risks with an occipital nerve.
Remember – it is a very low risk procedures. It is not around the spinal cord at all and it has no motor function, only sensory. The risks are minimally. There may be some slight bleeding. May have an infection or allergic reaction. The needle is outside the spinal canal. No risk of a CSF leak or a spinal cord injury.
The physicians at Bonzai Regen’s Pain Relief are double board-certified and specialty trained to help patients treat and manage your pain. Our team of doctors and clinicians provide diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering from chronic or acute pain.
Schedule a pain management consultation today,
or call us at (480)745-7871