An occipital nerve block is an injection comprised of a steroid with a local anesthetic that is administered into the occipital nerves, which are located in the back of the head. This nerve block can help pain from chronic headaches and various types of neuralgia.
Occipital Nerve Pain
The greater occipital nerve arises from between the first and second cervical vertebrae, along with the lesser occipital nerve. It provides sensation to the skin along the back of the scalp, going up to the top of the head. When the occipital nerve is irritated, the pain radiates near the eye on the same side of the head. This is the pain that patients are seeking to relieve through the injection of an occipital nerve block.
Purpose of an Occipital Nerve Block
With a nerve block, pain-relieving medicine is injected into the region where the nerve crosses the skull. The needle is placed near the nerve and the anesthetic is injected. Pain relief is typically immediate and usually lasts as long as the numbness from the anesthetic, with the relief sometimes being long-lasting.
An occipital nerve block is administered in order to manage:
Pain affecting the back of the head/one side of the head. It provides relief to those reporting sensations of shooting, zapping, stinging, or burning
Migraines and cluster headaches
A tender or painful scalp, which may be a sign of an inflamed nerve