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Occipital neuralgia is a form of headache that involves the greater and lesser occipital nerves. It is a persistent pain that is caused by irritation or injury to the occipital nerves. It can be hard to determine the difference between occipital neuralgia and other types of headaches. This can make the diagnosis of this condition very challenging. With occipital neuralgia, the pain starts at the base of the skull, by the nape of the neck. It typically radiates to the back, front, and side of the head, including behind the eyes.
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The eye pain from occipital neuritis (greater occipital neuralgia) is causes by greater occipital nerve inflammation. The inflammation occurs from chronic, sustained muscle contractions that result in a insufficient blood supply to the nerve. It is determined that the eye pain that is occurs in this syndrome is caused by the close quarters of the greater occipital nerve and the spinal tract of the trigeminal nerve.
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The symptoms of occipital neuralgia caused from occipital inflammation include headaches that are localized and is described as feeling like a ram's horn pattern. The pain is felt on the side of the head and starts in the upper neck or base of the skull. The pain can occur on both sides or it can be one-sided.
The scalp is hypersensitive, and tender to the touch. A daily routine of brushing one's hair can be a painful experience. Pain and pressure is also felt behind the eyes. The eyes are sensitive to light and can be extremely painful and even more sensitive when a headache is present.
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To find the appropriate type of treatment, occipital neuralgia needs to be diagnosed. Proper diagnosis can help improve the efficacy of the given treatment.
For mild cases of occipital neuralgia, medications can be used for treatment. Medications that are given are used to lessen the pain caused by the inflammation of the nerve. Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory that many people have found useful. Acute cases may need a higher dosage pain reliever in addition to taking an anti-inflammatory drug. Muscles relaxants have also been found to be useful if the pain is caused from long periods of sitting or muscle tension.
A numbing drug can be injected directly into the occipital nerve to help relieve pain. This type of procedure is called an occipital nerve block. A person usually experiences pain relief within minutes of the injection and can last anywhere from hours to a few days.
Steroid injections can be given in addition to occipital nerve blocks or can be used alone. A steroid injection helps relieve pain by reducing the inflammation of the occipital nerve. The injection can control the pain for up to several depending on the severity of the occipital neuralgia stage.
The only type of permanent treatment available for occipital neuralgia is surgery. The nerve will be cut so that transmission of signals to the brain can no longer occur. A patient can also have a occipital nerve transmitter that sends tiny charges to the nerve to stop headaches.
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iMigraine: Occipital Neuralgia - http://imigraine.net/other/occipital.html
Dynamic Chiropractic Clinic: Occipital Neuralgia - http://www.dynamicclinic.com/occipital_neuralgia.php