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Occipital Neuralgia

The occipital nerves located along your neck and the back of your head receive sensations like temperature, touch and pressure for that area of your body. When one of these nerves is damaged or becomes irritated, you may experience a painful headache called occipital neuralgia.

Occipital neuralgia pain is typically piercing, throbbing or feels like an electric shock around your neck, the back of your head and behind you ear and usually only affects one side of your head. That area may be so sensitive to touch that even brushing your hair hurts. Similar to a migraine, your eyes may become sensitive to light.

Damage to the occipital nerves might be related to a number of events or conditions, such as:

  • Injury to the head/neck
  • Tumors located along the spine
  • Arthritis
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Blood vessel inflammation

It can be difficult to distinguish between a cluster headache or migraine and occipital neuralgia. Keeping notes about your pain helps your physician make a more accurate diagnosis.

If neuralgia is caused by tumors, bone damage or bleeding, imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans can be used for accurate diagnosis. Procedures that block nerve signals can also verify that your occipital nerve is the source of your pain.

The pain associated with occipital neuralgia can be controlled. Your physician works with you to create a personalized treatment plan that fits your needs and improves your quality of life.

When your pain is disrupting your life, you need specialized care to help you return to the activities you love. Indiana University Health Pain Management physicians focus on providing advanced treatment solutions for your pain. Our fellowship-trained physicians use the latest options for the treatment of occipital neuralgia.

We offer comprehensive services to help you find relief and cope with your chronic pain. A multidisciplinary team of pain management specialists, anesthesiology and neurology specialists, physical medicine physicians and nurses address your treatment needs. Based on your medical history and personal preferences, we develop an individualized treatment plan suited to you. Our physicians strive to improve your quality of life using their expertise and years of experience in managing a wide range of chronic pain conditions.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Occipital Neuralgia Treatment Information

We specialize in advanced therapies and administer a full range of treatment options for occipital neuralgia, including:


Occipital Neuralgia Locations & Physicians

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Occipital Neuralgia Support Services

Learn more about the management of chronic pain from occipital neuralgia at the websites below: