Occipital neuralgia causes a severe headache in the back of your head, often affecting one side then possibly spreading to include both sides. At American Pain Experts in Oakland Park within Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Neel Amin, MD, specializes in accurately diagnosing occipital neuralgia and creating customized interventional treatments that effectively relieve your headache pain. To learn more about your treatment options, call the office or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment today.
Occipital neuralgia is a condition that occurs when the occipital nerves become injured or inflamed. The occipital nerves serve the back and top of your head. The nerves leave the top of your cervical spine, run through muscles at the back of your head, and into the scalp on both sides of your head.
You develop occipital neuralgia when the nerves are pinched by a spine condition or tight muscles. Though less common, a head or neck injury may lead to occipital nerve damage. This condition may also be associated with an underlying disease.
Some of the common causes of occipital neuralgia include:
In some cases, occipital neuralgia occurs without an identifiable cause.
Occipital neuralgia causes headaches that feel like a severe, continuous throbbing or burning pain in the back of your head and neck. You’ll also have a piercing or shooting pain that goes from the base of your head to one or both sides of your head.
You may experience pain behind your ear or eye or feel like the pain radiates toward your eye. Some people find that their scalp becomes hypersensitive to touch, while others develop numbness.
Diagnosing occipital neuralgia requires a detailed evaluation because its symptoms often overlap with other conditions such as migraines.
Dr. Amin evaluates your medical history and symptoms, performs a physical and neurological exam, and orders an MRI or CT scan, if needed, to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.
To verify a diagnosis of occipital neuralgia and to plan the best treatment, Dr. Amin performs a nerve block by injecting a local anesthetic. If the anesthetic quickly relieves your pain, it verifies that the occipital nerve is the source of the problem.
A positive response to a nerve block also means that interventional treatment targeting the nerve will alleviate your symptoms.
Dr. Amin often treats occipital neuralgia with one or more of the following:
Depending on the cause of your occipital neuralgia, you may need a procedure to decompress the nerves or repair an underlying cervical spine condition.
If you experience severe pain in the back of your head and upper neck, call American Pain Experts or schedule an appointment online.