Headaches are one of the most prevalent forms of head pain experienced by patients in the U.S. If your headache pain is caused by inflammation in the occipital nerve, an occipital nerve block may help you achieve pain relief. 


What Is an Occipital Nerve Block?


The occipital nerve is a spinal nerve located at the C2 and C3 vertebrae at the top of the neck. This nerve impacts the vertex of the head, as well as the ear. Contributing most of the sensation in the top and back of the head, the occipital nerve is key in the healthy functioning of the upper spine. When the occipital nerve becomes inflamed, you may experience headaches and pain in the head and neck. 


An occipital nerve block is a minimally-invasive treatment that can help with occipital nerve-related pain. It’s proven effective for many patients in the management of headaches due to occipital nerve irritation. Occipital nerve blocks are available at our procedure center and are performed with image guidance through fluoroscopy (x-ray) or ultrasound (sonograph).


What Can an Occipital Nerve Block Be Used to Treat?


An occipital nerve block can be an effective treatment option for chronic head pain. In particular, patients with the following conditions may benefit from an occipital nerve block:


  • Occipital neuralgia

  • Migraines

  • Chronic headaches

  • Cluster headaches

  • Neck pain

  • Pain at the back of the head

  • Osteoarthritis in the neck joints


What to Expect During an Occipital Nerve Block


During the occipital nerve procedure, an injection is applied to the skin at the trunk of the nerve using a thin needle. The injection contains a local anesthetic and steroids to block pain signals from the occipital nerve to the brain. 


Patients can return home immediately after the occipital nerve block procedure. Most patients are also able to return to their regular activities the day after the procedure. 


Pain relief may be experienced immediately after an occipital nerve block, with the effects continuing to improve in the days following the procedure. Relief from an occipital nerve block can last for several months, with the results varying from patient to patient. 


What Are the Benefits of Occipital Nerve Blocks?


Fast Results for Headache Pain


Patients may feel immediate pain relief from an occipital nerve block, with results improving in the days following the procedure. 


Headache Relief with Less Medication


As patients experience relief in the days after an occipital nerve block, they’re able to manage headache pain with less medication. This allows patients to avoid side effects from pain medication.


Little to No Recovery Time


Minimal recovery time, if any, is required after an occipital nerve block. Unlike with surgical procedures, patients can typically return to work the day after an occipital nerve block. 


For more information about occipital nerve blocks for pain management, contact us today.