Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital Neuralgia

The Neck/Head Pain that Results from Injury or Irritation to the Occipital Nerves

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

Occipital Neuralgia Facts & Information

Patients with occipital neuralgia can go undiagnosed and suffer for many years because symptoms can mimic more common headaches such as migraines. However, the treatment for occipital neuralgia is specific, making an accurate diagnosis essential for pain relief. Once diagnosed, occipital neuralgia typically responds well to treatment. Our broad-certified pain physicians can offer you the most advanced non-surgical options available, enabling you to return to an active lifestyle.

How & Why Does Occipital Neuralgia Develop

Much of the feeling in the back and top of the head is transmitted to the brain by the two occipital nerves, 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 is the neck/head pain that 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


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


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