“Occipital neuralgia can be difficult to diagnose because it is similar to a typical headache. However, this condition needs to be properly diagnosed so that the sufferer gets the right treatment.”
Hellodoc, Jakarta – Occipital neuralgia is a rare type of headache. The reason, the source of pain comes from the occipital area that stretches from the back of the head to the neck.
Unlike regular headaches or migraines, occipital neuralgia can appear suddenly, even when you’re brushing your hair. The attacks are also inconsistent and can last only a short time, from a few seconds to a few minutes. In addition, the pain also feels sharp and stabbing.
What caused it?
Occipital neuralgia is most often caused by a pinched nerve in the back of the neck. Another trigger is neck muscles that tighten or tense. A person who has suffered an injury to the head or neck is also at risk for this type of headache. Other conditions that can cause occipital neuralgia include:
- Osteoarthritis, especially in the upper cervical spine.
- Tumors affecting the nerve roots.
- Inflammation of blood vessels.
Occipital Neuralgia Diagnosis
The doctor asks questions about your medical history, injury history and symptoms. After that followed by a physical examination by pressing on the back of the head.
Doctors may also give an injection to numb the nerve, called a nerve block, to see if this gives relief or not. If successful, it is likely that the pain in the back of the head is not due to occipital neuralgia. An MRI may also be done if the doctor suspects abnormal symptoms.
This condition can be difficult to diagnose because the pain is similar to migraines and other headache disorders. Therefore, it is important to seek medical care when you start to experience any unusual headache symptoms. For example, sharp pain in the neck or scalp and pain is not accompanied by nausea or light sensitivity.
Patients need to get the right diagnosis to get the right treatment. This is because the drugs used for occipital neuralgia are not the same as migraine or headache medications.
How To Treat It?
Treatment options for occipital neuralgia vary, from home treatments to surgery, depending on the severity. First of all, doctors generally recommend home remedies such as warm compresses to the back of the head and taking pain relievers.
If it’s caused by tight muscles or pinched nerves, doctors generally recommend physical therapy, prescription muscle relaxants and massage. Antidepressants, antiepileptic and tricyclic drugs are also often prescribed to reduce symptoms.
Just in case the above treatment doesn’t work, the doctor can inject a local anesthetic into the occipital area. The effects of this treatment will appear immediately and can last up to 12 weeks.
If the headache is due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine, doctors generally recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves.
If you have other questions regarding health problems, contact the doctor through the application Hellodoc just. Doctors who are experts in their fields will answer your questions and provide the best solutions. Do not delay before the condition worsens, download Hellodoc right now!
Healthline. Accessed 2022. Occipital Neuralgia.
WebMD. Accessed 2022. Occipital Neuralgia.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Accessed 2022. Occipital Neuralgia.