What is the Occipital Neuralgia?
Occipital neuralgia refers to having pain and muscle spasms that come specifically from the base of the skull, the subocciptal area. The pain can radiate to the back, front, and side of the head, as well as behind the eyes. The location of pain 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. These occipital nerves come from the the area of the second and third vertebrae of the neck
What Causes Occipital Neuralgia?
Commonly this condition occurs more in women. Causes include:
- A trauma to the head and the neck, such as whiplash, or a direct hit
- pinching of the nerves by overly tight neck muscles
- faulty neck posture: frequent lengthy periods of keeping the head in a forward and downward position
- spinal column compression
- nerve lesions(due to compression of the nerves)
- localized infections
- blood vessel inflammation
- blood vessel inflammation
- osteoarthritis (due to compression of the nerves)
- local tumors (due to compression of the nerves)
Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia
- Headaches that are localized or following a "ram's horn" pattern on the side of the head, often starting in the upper neck or base of the skull (can be one-sided or on both sides)
- Pain in the scalp
- Pain in the forehead
- Scalp that is tender to the touch, often hypersensitive. Even brushing ones hair can painful
- Pain or pressure behind the eyes (Eyes are very sensitive to light especially when the headache is present)
What is the treatment options for Occipital Neuralgia?
- oral medications that are designed to reduce inflammation
- muscle relaxers
- local nerve blocks and injections of steroids directly into the affected area.
- physical therapy
- head and neck massage
- moist heat
- trigger point therapy of the suboccipital muscles
- using a supportive pillow at night
- traction for the neck
Recently, I came across a patients forum that discussed treatment options for occipital neuralgia. Choosing the right neck pillow for this condition can be tricky because it is very easy to set of the occipital nerves because they are so sensitive.
I too was looking for a pillow for the last 4 months. I randomly ordered the cervical traction neck pillow thinking it would be another pillow that truely wouldn't be comfortable. I could not believe how well it worked. I did not have to worry about the pressure building on the base of my head with this pillow. Albeit it does take time to get used to this pillow as it is correcting your posture.- PostureDude 04/11/2010 www.mdjunction.com/forums
Give it a try and I hope it works for you too!
Source: NINDS Occipital Neuralgia Information Page
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