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What is Occipital Nerve Block?

By January 3, 2020February 8th, 2022No Comments

At Sun Pain Management, we are partners in our patient’s healthcare journey. With a variety of treatments and modalities available, we create personalized treatment plans to meet each patient’s unique needs. We advocate for our patients and extend a compassionate, multimodal approach to help them manage all aspects of their pain and maximize patient quality of life.

We offer a comprehensive range of pain procedures and injections. Today we want to talk about Occipital Nerve Blocks. Occipital Nerve Blocks have a proven success rate and for patients who receive these injections, improved patient outcomes relative to managing chronic pain.

Understanding the Occipital Nerve

Medical terms:

The greater occipital nerve is a branch of the C2 dorsal ramus and is the largest purely afferent nerve in the body. The nerve crosses deep to the semispinalis capitis muscle and emerges in the back of the head above the superior nuchal line. It enters the scalp between the semispinalis capitis and trapezius muscles.

In layman’s terms:

Wow! That was a lot of clinical jargon. Simply put, the occipital nerve supplies sensation to the skin along the back of the scalp to the top of the head. If you experience chronic headaches, occipital nerve irritation or “upset” may be the culprit.

Four Tips for Relief

  • Apply heat to your neck.
  • Rest in a quiet room.
  • Massage tight and painful neck muscles.
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen or ibuprofen.

When relief can’t be achieved with any or all the above home remedies, a patient will be referred to our office for an occipital nerve block treatment.

What does that mean? Occipital Nerve Block?

An occipital nerve block is an injection of steroids or other medication that numbs the pain around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head just above the neck area.

The procedure takes only a couple of minutes. The local anesthetic wears off in about four hours. It takes a little time for the steroid or other medication to “kick in”. This can take up to 2 weeks. Pain relief from an occipital nerve block usually will last for several months, but this may vary from patient to patient.

If you are suffering from chronic headaches and either over-the-counter or prescribed medications are not helping, contact our office.

Sun Pain Management

Sun Pain Management and Spine Specialists led by Dr. David Towns, MD, is dedicated to clinical care excellence. Our innovative, patient-centered approach to acute and chronic pain management differentiates us from typical practices. We excel at curating personalized, integrative treatment plans to address chronic pain, thus improving their well-being and overall quality of life.