Occipital Neuralgia

What Is Occipital Neuralgia?

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Causes of Occipital Neuralgia?

Irritation or injury to the occipital nerves can cause inflammation or pressure.

Occipital neuralgia neck pain and headaches can stem from a variety of causes:

  • trauma to the back of the head
  • pinched nerves from overly tight neck muscles
  • nerve compression from osteoarthritis, tumors or other types of lesions in the neck
  • inflammation or infection in the occipital nerve region
  • gout, diabetes, or blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
  • frequent lengthy periods of keeping the head in a downward and forward position

In many cases, however, no cause can be found.

Occipital Neuralgia Symptoms

Typically, the pain of occipital neuralgia begins in the neck and then spreads upwards. The location of the symptoms is related to the areas supplied by the greater and lesser occipital nerves, which run from the area where the spinal column meets the neck, up to the scalp at the back of the head. Other symptoms include:

  • what feels like electric shock pain in the head and neck
  • pain in the scalp, forehead, and behind the eyes
  • scalp may also be tender to the touch
  • eyes may be especially sensitive to light

Our prestigious NY medical centers are experienced in diagnosing and treating brain and spine conditions such as occipital neuralgia.

Treatments for Occipital Neuralgia

Treatment generally includes massage and rest. Other treatments may include local nerve blocks and injections of steroids directly into the affected area.

In some patients that do not improve with conservative treatments, surgery may be considered. Our expert neurosurgeons who treat occipital neuralgia have an innovative procedure available to help treat this painful condition:

Occipital Nerve Stimulation – Board-certified neurosurgeons implant a small electrode to apply electrical stimulation to the nervous system to modulate the circuitry and treat the disease. This neuro-stimulator interrupts the pain messages sent to the brain.

As the largest private neurosurgery practice on Long Island, NSPC has award-winning specialists and expert neurosurgeons in the New York area experienced in treating occipital neuralgia using leading-edge procedures.

Related NSPC Center

Long Island Brain and Spine Tumor Center

NSPC provides state-of-the-art treatment of benign and malignant brain and spine tumors, using minimally invasive procedures like Gamma Knife®, Novalis TX™, and CyberKnife® rather than major surgery whenever appropriate. Our physicians also perform experienced pediatric neurosurgery — they give personalized, individual attention combined with knowledge and experience to take on the most challenging of cases.


Brian Snyder

M.D., F.A.N.N.S.


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