What Is Occipital Neuralgia?


Quick Answer

Occipital neuralgia is a disorder of the nervous system that injures or inflames the occipital nerves, which are the nerves that extend from the top of spinal cord to the scalp, according to WebMD. Due to its similarity to other headaches, this condition should be accurately diagnosed for proper treatment.

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What Is Occipital Neuralgia?
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Full Answer

When an injury, inflammation or nerve entrapment attack the occipital nerves, the nerves get compressed, leading to occipital neuralgia, explains WebMD. Although the cause of occipital neuralgia may not be traced in most cases, the risk factors include back head trauma, diabetes, neck tumors, gout and inflammation of the blood vessels.

Occipital neuralgia is associated with symptoms such as sharp, jabbing pain in the neck and the back of the head, throbbing and radiating pain originating from the base of the head toward the scalp, scalp tenderness, and light sensitivity, notes WebMD. A patient who experiences these symptoms should immediately seek medical care to prevent the condition from worsening.

The treatment for occipital neuralgia depends on the cause of the condition, states WebMD. Some of the treatment methods for occipital neuralgia include heat application to the neck, neck massage, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and antidepressant medications. If these methods fail to work, the patient should undergo surgery to alleviate the pain.

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