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Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital Neuralgia Causes

Occipital neuralgia may be caused by a number of factors, including: trauma or a direct blow to the head; compression of the spinal column; nerve lesions; localized infections and inflammations; diabetes; gout; inflammation in the blood vessels; and, in some cases, local tumors.

Occipital Neuralgia Definition

Occipital neuralgia is a distinct form of headache marked by throbbing, piercing, or chronic pain occurring in the back of the head, upper neck, and behind the ears, usually on only one side of the head.

Occipital Neuralgia Diagnosis

Occipital neuralgia can be diagnosed based on the patient's medical history and physical examination results.

Occipital Neuralgia Symptoms and Signs

Occipital neuralgia usually manifests as a non-localized headache that usually follows a “ram's horn” pattern on the outside area of the head, commonly starting in the base of the skull or the upper neck. The pain, which has been compared to the sensation of an electric shock, may occur in only one side of the brain or in both sides. Other symptoms of occipital neuralgia are: tenderness and hypersensitivity in the scalp (even the mere act of brushing one's hair can produce agonizing pain); and pressure or pain behind the eyes (patients may be particularly photosensitive when the headache occurs). Occipital neuralgia affects more men than women.

Occipital Neuralgia Treatment

In general, treatment for occipital neuralgia is symptomatic and may include self-care measures such as rest and massage. In some instances, treatment may include antidepressants to manage pain that is particularly severe. Other treatment options include the use of local nerve blocks and steroids injections introduced directly into the affected area to reduce spasm and decrease inflammation.

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