What it is and how to treat it...
Occipital neuralgia is often considered a rare type of Headache condition. However, it is often confused with Migraine or other types of Headache, because the symptoms can be similar.
Occipital neuralgia is most often associated with intense, sharp, piercing or electric-shock like pains. However, like Migraines and Headaches, the pain can also be throbbing or achey in nature. Unlike Migraines, which are usually long lasting, the most intense part of an occipital neuralgia episode is brief, only lasting seconds to minutes.
Occipital neuralgia episodes typically begin in the neck and spread upwards. Pain can move forward to the scalp, forehead and behind the eyes. The scalp may even be tender to touch. Individuals eyes may be sensitive to light, but occipital neuralgia episodes do not usually involve watering of the eyes or eye redness. It is very common to have pain when an individual moves their neck.
Common treatment for Occipital Neuralgia involves medication - these can be muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants or anti-seizure drugs. Nerve blocks may also be used.
As occipital neuralgia pain can travel along the side of the head to the face, it may also be mistaken for a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia. It is highly recommended that those diagnosed with either condition should have a thorough assessment of their neck as part of their overall management.
At The Headache Clinic, we look to get to the source of the problem. Our clinician's have all undertaken specific training in the upper cervical spine and use a skilled technique to assess these structures.
Occipital Neuralgia is a treatable condition that can be significantly relieved or resolved with specialised treatment.