What is an Occipital Nerve Block?
An Occipital Nerve Block is a procedure that involves injecting pain-relieving medication and steroids into your greater and lesser occipital nerves.
It’s primarily used as a treatment for chronic migraines and headaches.
What to expect during the procedure
During the procedure, you’ll lie face down on the table.
A medical professional will apply an anesthetic to the back of your head just above your neck. They’ll then insert a fine needle into the injection site until the needle reaches your occipital nerve.
After the injection, the area will become numb as the pain-relieving medication takes effect. Some people notice improvements in their pain in as little as 15 minutes.
The procedure only takes a couple of minutes to complete. You should arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure, but you’ll typically be able to drive and return to normal activities the next day.
How long does the pain relief last?
The full pain-relieving effects of the steroids can take several days to take effect.
The amount of time that an occipital nerve block reduces pain varies from person to person. However, they can cause pain relief for months in some people.
What’s an Occipital Nerve Block typically used for?
An occipital nerve block is used to reduce chronic head pain.
Some of the specific conditions it’s commonly used to treat include the following.
- Migraines: Migraines are a neurological condition that usually causes intense headaches on one side of the head. People who have migraines commonly also experience nausea, dizziness, and mood changes.
- Cluster headaches: Cluster headaches are a short but painful series of reoccurring headaches. People who experience them tend to get them seasonally.
- Spondylosis of the cervical facet joints: Also called osteoarthritis of the joints in your neck, spondylosis of the cervical facet joints is often caused by the age-related breakdown of your neck bones and discs.
- Occipital neuralgia: Occipital neuralgia is a headache disorder that usually causes shooting pain in the back of your head, one side of your neck, and behind your ears. Pain is caused by damage to the greater and lesser occipital nerves.
- no improvement in symptoms
- stronger headachesTrusted Source
- allergic reactions
- bleeding at the injection site
- small risk of nerve damage