Occipital Nerve Block
What is Occipital Neuralgia and why is an Occipital Nerve Block helpful?
Occipital neuralgia is a distinct type of headache characterized by piercing, throbbing or electric-shock-like chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the ears, usually on one side of the head. Typically, the pain of occipital neuralgia begins in the neck and then spreads upwards. Some individuals will also experience pain in the scalp, forehead and behind the eyes. Their scalp may also be tender to the touch and their eyes especially sensitive to light. The location of pain 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. The pain is caused by irritation or injury to the nerves, which can be the result of trauma to the back of the head, pinching of the nerves by overly tight neck muscles, compression of the nerve as it leaves the spine due to osteoarthritis, or tumors or other types of lesions in the neck.
An Occipital Nerve Block is an injection of a small amount of local anesthetic and a small amount of steroid into the area of the occipital nerve where you are experiencing pain and tenderness.
The physician who performs the injection specializes in the treatment of pain. The procedure is done in the office and you are awake for the procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
You may be sitting or lying down for the injection. The area that is to be injected will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. The doctor will apply pressure with his finger to locate the nerve. Once the specific area of the nerve is identified, it will then be injected.
What happens after the procedure?
A dressing may be applied to the injection site. You will remain in the office for about 15-20 minutes and the nurse will monitor your blood pressure and pulse. You may experience increased pain following the injection. It is not uncommon to experience some occasional dizziness after the injection. The nurse will review your discharge instructions and you will be able to go home.
General Pre/Post Instructions
You may eat a light, but not full meal at least 1 hour before the procedure, unless receiving intravenous sedation. If you are an insulin dependent diabetic do not alter your normal food intake.
Take your routine medications before the procedure (such as high blood pressure and diabetes medications) except for those that need to be discontinued five days before the procedure such as aspirin and all anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. Motrin/Ibuprofen, Aleve, Relafen, Daypro). These medicines may be re-started the day after the procedure. You may take your regular pain medicine as needed before/after the procedure. If you are taking Coumadin, Heparin, Lovenox, Plavix or Ticlid you must notify the office so that the timing of stopping these medications can be explained.
You must bring a driver with you. You may return to your current level of activities the next day including return to work.
Things that may Delay the Procedure
If you are on antibiotics please notify our office; we may delay the procedure. If you have an active infection or fever we will not do the procedure.