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All of Your Treatment Options for Occipital Neuralgia

All of Your Treatment Options for Occipital Neuralgia

Your two greater and two lesser occipital nerves are found on each side of your head at the base of your skull. These four nerves transmit sensation to the top of your head. Irritation of these nerves, known as occipital neuralgia, can leave you with chronic headache pain in this same distribution.

Occipital neuralgia sometimes seems similar to chronic migraines, a more familiar type of chronic headache condition. 

Headache pain related to your occipital neuralgia may seem to radiate toward the front regions of your head, with throbbing pain on both sides. Or, the pain may seem to shoot toward one eye. Some patients find that their scalp becomes unbearably sensitive during an attack.

You shouldn’t have to live with the pain of occipital neuralgia. At Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, interventional pain management specialists Dr. Nichelle C. Renk and Dr. Mary Beth Calor offer treatments that can help, reducing or even curing your head and neck pain symptoms.

From their Anchorage, Alaska, office, Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor provide comprehensive treatment for occipital neuralgia. Here are some of the treatment options that may be able to relieve your condition.

Conservative treatment: physical therapy and more

With all of their patients, Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor start the treatment process by looking at conservative, noninvasive treatment methods. 

After examining you physically and reviewing your health history, Dr. Renk or Dr. Calor may recommend that you spend some time exploring physical therapy, therapeutic massage, and pharmacotherapy for your occipital neuralgia.

Specific medications that can be helpful are low dose naltrexone (LDN), muscle relaxants, antineuropathic medications, and topicals.

Occipital neuralgia can occur due to contracted muscles in your upper neck and cervical spine. You may be able to release these muscles through physical therapy, massage therapy, or other noninvasive approaches.

Injections and pulsed radiofrequency treatment

Second-line treatments for occipital neuralgia include:

Occipital nerve blocks can provide temporary pain relief, and also may help Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor learn more about your condition and confirm your diagnosis.

Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor work with their interventional pain management patients to find the best possible solution for your chronic pain symptoms. You may be able to benefit from a combination of these treatments and therapies.

Surgery for your occipital neuralgia

When all other treatment paths are exhausted, it’s time to think about surgical treatment for your occipital neuralgia. Dr. Renk can refer to a surgeon for this condition.

Surgical neurolysis of your affected occipital nerve can be an effective treatment option. The surgeon can also surgically stimulate your occipital nerve to address your chronic pain symptoms.

In occipital release surgery, the surgeon creates an incision at the back of your neck. The surgeon then releases compression around your greater occipital nerves. The surgeon can also manipulate other nerves in your cervical spine during surgery, if needed. 

While occipital release surgery can relieve your condition, the relief could prove temporary, with symptoms recurring.

Surgical cutting of your greater occipital nerves is a permanent solution to occipital neuralgia pain, only pursued as a last resort, due to the scalp numbness that also results.

Your occipital neuralgia treatment plan

It isn’t always clear what causes occipital neuralgia to become a problem in some people’s lives, but once it does, it can be complex to diagnose and treat. Seek the professional support of an expert interventional pain management specialist like Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor for the diagnosis and treatment you need.

Schedule your initial consultation by calling Alpenglow Pain & Wellness today, or book an appointment online now.

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