Occipital neuralgia is a condition characterized by piercing, throbbing or electric-shock-like pain where the greater and lesser occipital nerves are located in the back of the neck and head.
Irritation or injury to the occipital nerves can cause inflammation or pressure.
Occipital neuralgia neck pain and headaches can stem from a variety of causes:
trauma to the back of the head
pinched nerves from overly tight neck muscles
nerve compression from osteoarthritis, tumors or other types of lesions in the neck
inflammation or infection in the occipital nerve region
gout, diabetes, or blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
frequent lengthy periods of keeping the head in a downward and forward position
In many cases, however, no cause can be found.
Occipital Neuralgia Symptoms
Typically, the pain of occipital neuralgia begins in the neck and then spreads upwards. The location of the symptoms is related to the areas supplied by the greater and lesser occipital nerves, which run from the area where the spinal column meets the neck, up to the scalp at the back of the head. Other symptoms include:
what feels like electric shock pain in the head and neck
pain in the scalp, forehead, and behind the eyes
scalp may also be tender to the touch
eyes may be especially sensitive to light
Our prestigious NY medical centers are experienced in diagnosing and treating brain and spine conditions such as occipital neuralgia.
Treatments for Occipital Neuralgia
Treatment generally includes massage and rest. Other treatments may include local nerve blocks and injections of steroids directly into the affected area.
In some patients that do not improve with conservative treatments, surgery may be considered. Our expert neurosurgeons who treat occipital neuralgia have an innovative procedure available to help treat this painful condition:
Occipital Nerve Stimulation— Board-certified neurosurgeons implant a small electrode to apply electrical stimulation to the nervous system to modulate the circuitry and treat the disease. This neuro-stimulator interrupts the pain messages sent to the brain.
As the largest private neurosurgery practice on Long Island, NSPC has award-winning specialists and expert neurosurgeons in the New York area experienced in treating occipital neuralgia using leading-edge procedures.