As some of you may know, soon after our new couch was delivered, I began to experience severe neck and head pain. Well, that pain has not subsided, it has gotten worse over time. I am trying to avoid sitting on the couch, but it’s hard to do when the ground or a kitchen chair are your only other options!
I have all of the symptoms of occipital neuralgia, and I will be asking my pain doctor about this next week when I see her. I’m hoping to get some extra injections on the areas of my neck and skull that are in severe pain and causes brutal headaches. I have been wanting to see my massage therapist and chiropractor, who both work at the pain clinic that my doctor is at, and know my case pretty well, but they only work Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I’m in class those days. Sigh. I’m sure a massage and adjustment for my neck would work wonders right now.
So what exactly is occipital neuralgia? Here is some info!
Occipital neuralgia is a neurological condition in which the occipital nerves — the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord at the base of the neck up through the scalp — are inflamed or injured. Occipital neuralgia can be confused with a migraine or other types of headache because the symptoms can be similar.
Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia
Occipital neuralgia can cause very intense pain that feels like a sharp, jabbing, electric shock in the back of the head and neck. Other symptoms of occipital neuralgia may include:
- Aching, burning, and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and radiates to the scalp
- Pain on one or both sides of the head
- Pain behind the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Tender scalp
- Pain when moving the neck
Causes of Occipital Neuralgia
Occipital neuralgia is the result of compression or irritation of the occipital nerves due to injury, entrapment of the nerves, or inflammation. Many times, no cause is found.
There are many medical conditions that are associated with occipital neuralgia, including:
- Trauma to the back of the head
- Neck tension and/or tight neck muscles
- Tumors in the neck
- Cervical disc disease
- Blood vessel inflammation
Treatments for Occipital Neuralgia
Treatment depends on what is causing the inflammation or irritation of the occipital nerves. The first course of action is to relieve pain. There are a number of things you can try to get relief, including:
- Apply heat to the neck.
- Rest in a quiet room.
- Massage for tight and painful neck muscles.
- Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen or ibuprofin
Some natural treatments for Occipital Neuralgia (and you know I’m all for these!):
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Cranial osteopathy
- Nutritional therapy
If these self-care measures don’t work, your doctor may prescribe the following medications to treat occipital neuralgia pain:
- Prescription muscle relaxants
- Anticonvulsant drugs
- Short-term use of local nerve blocks and steroid injections; it may take 2-3 injections over several weeks to get control of your pain. It is not uncommon for the pain to return at some point and to need a repeat series of injections.
I’m assuming this is happening because of neck tension and tight neck muscles and they are irritating my spinal nerves. Crossing my fingers I find relief soon, because this is rather painful, frustrating, and annoying.
Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment if you experience, or have experienced this before as well.
I’m off to bed – another chemistry exam tomorrow and my body needs some rest!