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Occipital Neuralgia

An injury or inflammation to the occipital nerve, which runs through the scalp, is referred to a condition called Occipital Neuralgia. Patients might confuse it with a migraine or other types of headaches. The pain symptoms of Occipital neuralgia are often described as a headache-like symptom. The pain is characterized by severe piercing, throbbing, aching, burning, or shock-like pain. Patients may experience pain in different areas such as the upper neck, back of the head, behind the eyes or ears, and over the scalp on one or both sides of the head.

Some other medical related conditions that cause Occipital neuralgia are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle tightness
  • Trauma
  • Pinched or compressed nerve
  • Tumors in the neck
  • Infection
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • vasculitis

How do I get diagnosed and treated for Occipital Neuralgia?

A physical and neurological exam are done to diagnose Occipital neuralgia. Further diagnostic imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Ultrasound and computed tomography scan (CT scan) may be necessary to produce detailed images of the Occipital nerve

Discomfort and pain associated with occipital neuralgia can be managed by several non-surgical and surgical treatments, such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Oral medication- muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Nerve blocks
  • Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections
  • Occipital Nerve stimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Occipital release surgery
  • C2,3 Ganglionectomy


The contents contained within this page are not a substitute for health professionals’ advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise that you seek advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner. We fully disclose that any surgical or invasive procedures come with risks.

For more details on how to relieve or treat chronic pain, you can reach out to one of our pain specialists at any of our pain care clinic locations. We establish a caring relationship and provide patients with pain relief when needed the most.