Occipital Nerve Block

Steroid injection for neck pain or headache from occipital neuralgia

The most common symptoms related to occipital nerve injury are local tenderness or a tension type headache. The headache is usually described as a sustained, low intensity aching. This pain usually bilateral but may be on only one side. It is associated with stiffness of the muscles of the neck. Migraine headaches may also be related to occipital neuralgia. Migraine headaches are characterized by recurrent, severe, throbbing pain. It may be worse when lying down, increased by exposure to light, and associated with nausea or vomiting. Occipital neuralgia can also cause scalp pain and tenderness, and even numbness extending into the neck.

Occipital Nerve Block Technique

The nerve is identified under the scalp by palpation. Typical pain or headache may be reproduced with pressure over the nerve. After cleaning the scalp, a small amount of local anesthetic and a small dose of long acting steroids are injected. Numbness over the top of the head, after the injection, is a sign of a successful block. The numbness may last several hours. Relief of pain can be immediate and is occasionally permanent. The block can be repeated if necessary.

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Last modified: 07/27/08