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Occipital Neuralgia Treatment in Akron & Canton

Occipital Neuralgia is a peripheral condition that can cause migraine headaches and other problems. These headaches will start near the upper neck and back of the head. Occipital Neuralgia will occur when there is irritation in the occipital nerves, the group of nerves that run from the upper-neck to the back of the head. In addition to migraines and headaches, sufferers may feel:

  • Burning or throbbing pain in the back of the head
  • Pain on either side of the head
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stiffness or decreased neck mobility

Diagnosing Occipital Neuralgia:

Generally, a patient who begins suffering from headaches will go to their primary care to be initially evaluated. The main indicator for a diagnosis of occipital neuralgia as the cause of the headaches will be a tenderness in the area of the occipital nerve. The doctor performs a physical examination of the back of the neck (where it connects to the skull.) If it feels tender to the patient, it may be indicative of occiptal neuralgia. Often times, an X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI, or other scan may be performed in order to rule out other diagnoses. 

How is Occipital Neuralgia Treated?

As with many peripheral conditions, treatment of occipital neuralgia will heavily depend on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Ultimately, the main goal of the decided treatment will be to eliminate pain and discomfort caused by occipital neuralgia. A doctor will choose the best method on a case-by-case basis, and sometimes will refer out to other specialists or surgeons, depending on necessary treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment

A nonsurgical treatment plan will typically be made before any invasive measures are performed. In most cases, a doctor will recommend:

  • Limiting strenuous physical activity
  • Apply a heating pad to the area
  • Massage therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Anti-convulsant medication
  • Nerve block injections

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is considered when the pain is chronic and severe and all nonsurgical methods have been explored.

  • Occipital nerve stimulation, where electrical stimulation of the nerve is used to reduce or eliminate pain.
  • Decompression surgery may be chosen to correct cases where the nerve is pinched.
  • During Neurolysis, the surgeon will apply heat, freeze the nerve or apply chemicals to block transmission.
  • A Rhizotomy may be performed to destroy the nerve root in order to eliminate pain.