Occipital Neuralgia (Occipital Headache)

Occipital Neuralgia (Occipital Headache)

Occipital Neuralgia

If you are experiencing Neck Pain and Pain in the back of your head that shoots to the top of your head, you may be suffering from Occipital Neuralgia.
The Neck/Head Pain and Tingling sensation that Results from Injury or Irritation to the Occipital Nerves

Facts & Information about Occipital Neuralgia:

  • Also known as C2 neuralgia, and characterized by chronic pain/burning sensation in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. These areas correspond to the locations of the lesser and greater occipital nerves.
  • This condition is also sometimes characterized by diminished sensation in the affected area as well.
  • Because chronic headaches are a common symptom of numerous conditions, Occipital Neuralgia is often misdiagnosed at first, most commonly as tension headache or a migraine leading to unsuccessful treatment attempts.


Occipital neuralgia is characterized by severe pain that begins in the upper neck and back of the head up to the top of the scalp.

This pain is typically one-sided, although it can be on both sides if both occipital nerves have been affected. Additionally, the pain may radiate forward toward the eye, as it follows the path of the occipital nerve(s). Individuals may notice blurred vision as the pain radiates near or behind the eye.

The neuralgia pain is commonly described as sharp, shooting, zapping, an electric shock, or stabbing. The bouts of pain are rarely consistent, but can occur frequently with some patients depending on the damage to the nerves. The amount of time the pain lasts typically varies each time the symptom appears; it may last a few seconds or be almost continuous.

Occipital neuralgia can last for hours or for several days.

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 up to the top of the head
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Pain when moving the neck
  • Difficulty with Balance and Coordination
  • Tender scalp
  • Nausea and Vomiting

How Does Occipital Neuralgia Develop?

Sensation in the back and top of the scalp is transmitted to the brain by the two occipital nerves on each side, which emerge from the spine in the upper neck and travel to the top of the head.

Irritation of an occipital nerve anywhere along its course can cause a shooting or stabbing pain in the neck, radiating over the head. Between bouts of shooting pain, there also can be a constant ache. Sometimes, the pain is referred to behind the eyes. Other symptoms can include dizziness and nausea.

Occipital Neuralgia results from injury or irritation to the occipital nerves. It can be caused by trauma, such as a car accident, by a pinched nerve root in the neck (from arthritis, for example) or by “tight” muscles at the back of the head that entrap the nerves.

Symptoms can be mild or severe in nature and could include the following:

  •     Shooting or stabbing pain in the neck – radiating over the head
  •     Constant headaches
  •     Pain behind the eyes
  •     Dizziness
  •     Nausea


Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced physician. The type of pain that you may have with occipital neuralgia can be similar to the symptoms of several types of disorders. Accurately determining the correct source of your pain is critical to successful treatment.

    Begins with a thorough clinical evaluation
    Including a complete medical history, analysis of your symptoms, and physical examination
    Testing may include x-rays, MRI and/or CT scans, and peripheral nerve conduction study
    These advanced diagnostic techniques help pinpoint the source of pain

Possible Treatments

Occipital Nerve Block
Radiofrequency Neurotomy


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2015-06-01 00:00:00