Occipital Neuralgia is a severe nerve condition characterized by piercing, throbbing, or electric-shock-like pain in the base of the skull, upper neck, back of the head, scalp, and commonly behind one eye.
These classic symptoms are caused by an irritated, compressed, or damaged occipital nerve.
We can become complacent and find that our Occipital Neuralgia flare-ups are fueled by a stress headache we haven’t noticed.
Self-inflicted, avoidable, and a painful reminder to continue with our regular occipital neuralgia exercises and use of the neck massager.
How can you get rid of occipital neuralgia?
- Apply heat to your neck to see if it helps.
- Take a nap in a quiet place.
- Neck muscles that are tight and uncomfortable should be massaged.
- Take naproxen or ibuprofen, which are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Symptoms Of Occipital Neuralgia
“It feels like an ice pick is being shoved into my mind,” several patients say.
Occipital neuralgia has four well-known symptoms:
- Painful headache for a short period of time.
- Pain that lasts longer and is more dull
- Sensitivity to light
- Touch sensitivity is a term used to describe a person’s ability to respond to
Where you feel headache pain is one of the key aspects of occipital neuralgia:
- The back of your neck
- The top of the neck
- The back of your head
- Behind the ears
- Behind the eye
Is occipital neuralgia anything to be concerned about?
The condition of occipital neuralgia is not life-threatening.
Occipital neuralgia, on the other hand, can affect your work productivity, school performance, and overall quality of life.
That’s why, if your occipital neuralgia flares up, you should get therapy.
Occipital Neuralgia Treatment
Occipital neuralgia can be treated in one of nine ways:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Massage therapy is a type of treatment that involves mass
- Medications available over-the-counter
- Medications on prescription
- Physical therapy is a type of treatment that is used
- Remedy at home
Is occipital neuralgia reversible?
If the cause of your occipital nerve inflammation is addressed, occipital neuralgia may subside with time.
1. Chiropractic Care
The occipital nerves become inflamed or irritated, resulting in occipital neuralgia.
Spinal misalignments, which chiropractors may correct, can irritate these nerves.
Chiropractic therapy is a gentle manipulation of the spine that can be used to treat a variety of headaches.
Chiropractic therapy is a common treatment for occipital neuralgia, presumably because it is non-invasive and does not rely on drugs with a lot of adverse effects.
Upper cervical chiropractic treatment is an excellent technique to relieve headache discomfort while also improving your general health.
2. Massage Therapy
The gentle manipulation of muscles and soft tissues is referred to as massage treatment.
Massages are frequently used to relax tense muscles, especially those in the upper neck.
Because tight neck muscles can irritate occipital nerves, massage treatment has a lot of potential in treating occipital neuralgia caused by muscle tension.
Dry needling is a technique used by massage therapists to alleviate muscle tightness and chronic pain.
Acupuncture is similar to dry needling, except it is based solely on peer-reviewed research from the last few decades.
According to this research, both acupuncture and dry needling may help individuals with occipital neuralgia improve their clinical outcomes.
For occipital pain alleviation, doctors may recommend over-the-counter drugs.
Occipital discomfort can be caused by inflammation of the occipital nerves.
Ibuprofen (Advil) is a common anti-inflammatory drug used to treat nerve pain. It lowers inflammation, which can cause the shock-like pain that occipital neuralgia causes.
However, you should be aware of the potential negative effects of ibuprofen and comparable medications. Ibuprofen has the following side effects:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Vomiting \sGas
4. Drugs on Prescription
Doctors may also prescribe muscle relaxants or antidepressants to help with occipital neuralgia pain relief.
Muscle relaxants relax the muscles surrounding your occipital nerves, relieving strain on them and providing occipital pain relief.
Occipital neuralgia is commonly treated with anti-seizure medications, tricyclic antidepressants, and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
All of these have a laundry list of major side effects, so talk to your doctor about them before taking this path.
5. The use of injections
Injections may be used by doctors to treat occipital neuralgia.
Because injections are more invasive than other therapies, they are frequently used as a last resort when nothing else works.
A local anesthetic injected near the occipital nerves can provide occipital pain alleviation for up to a year. (Occipital neuralgia will most likely reoccur if the underlying cause isn’t addressed.)
Botox (botulinum toxin) injections may be a safe and efficient treatment for occipital neuralgia, according to a 2018 meta-analysis.
6. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a frequent treatment for occipital pain caused by muscle stress, bad posture, or injury to the neck.
A physical therapist can show you how to stretch and exercise your neck to make it stronger while also making it less tense.
Chin tucks are the most prevalent occipital neuralgia stretch.
The following are some of the advantages of a chin tuck:
- Neck muscle strengthening
- Muscle tension reduction
- Pose improvement
- Neck muscles stretching
Any stretches or exercises that cause you pain should be stopped.
7. Natural Treatments
Occipital neuralgia can be treated with a few home treatments.
These are non-invasive, low-cost, and have no negative side effects.
The following are some effective home treatments for occipital neuralgia:
- Warm compresses for rest
All-natural anti-inflammatories may also help to relieve inflammation in or around your occipital nerves.
Take a look at these natural anti-inflammatories:
- Cucrumin (turmeric)
- The claw of a cat
- Green tea is a type of tea that is used
- Omega-3 fatty acids in resveratrol (fish oil)
- Capsaicin (chili pepper)
- Boswellia (AKA frankincense)
- The bark of a white willow
- Pine bark
8. Surgical procedures
Several conditions that may be causing your occipital pain are addressed during surgery.
This is a more long-term treatment option for occipital neuralgia, as opposed to the short-term solutions like ibuprofen.
It will return if you do not treat the main cause of your occipital neuralgia.
Making small incisions to unpinch occipital nerves is the goal of occipital release surgery.
In order to prevent future occipital neuralgia attacks, inflammatory tissue may need to be incised to relieve pressure on your occipital nerves.
If your occipital nerves are compressed due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, surgery may be used to ease the nerve pressure.
A ganglionectomy is a surgery meant to disrupt nerve clusters that may contribute to occipital pain.
Electrodes may be surgically implanted under your skin to stimulate the occipital nerves, or between your spinal cord and vertebrae by neurosurgeons.
These electrodes are designed to stop pain signals from reaching your nervous system.
In extreme cases, a surgeon may sever the greater occipital nerve. This will cause numbness in the scalp.
There are several ways to prevent inflammation or irritation of the occipital nerves that causes occipital neuralgia:
- Regularly exercise and stretch.
- Make sure you have good posture.
- Avoid holding your head in a downward position for long periods of time.
- Muscle tension? Try to relax the muscles and relieve the tension.
- If you have an infection, get it treated before it irritates the nerves in your upper spine.
- Injured in the neck area? Seek medical attention to assess the damage.
- If your occipital nerves are already inflamed or irritated, avoid touching the back of your head or neck, unless you have to. In that case, be very gentle.
The Best Occipital Neuralgia Exercises
What are the best exercises for me to do?
I’m not sure how long I should do these for.
I’m not sure how often I should do them.
Due to the abundance of information available online, researching exercises for occipital neuralgia might be daunting.
It’s difficult to know where to begin because there are so many options and combinations.
The easy stretches mentioned below continue to serve us well when performed daily, out of the many exercises we’ve tried and tested for pain relief and prevention.
Living with this ailment for so long has taught us one thing: keep it simple and perform these things every day to keep the discomfort at bay.
- Tuck your chin
- Rotations of the Neck
- Stretches on the sides
- Stretches with the Massager
1. The Chin Tuck
The chin tuck is one of the most effective occipital neuralgia exercises that may be done sitting or standing on a daily basis.
To relieve and avoid discomfort, get into the habit of taking a short break and performing this exercise on a regular basis.
Apply slight pressure to the chin with a finger if you want a deeper stretch at the base of the neck.
If you experience any discomfort or pain during this workout or stretch, stop. Stop.
The chin tuck exercise has been shown to strengthen and relax your lower cervical extensors, deep cervical flexors, and other neck, shoulder, and ear muscles.
When we use the neck massager, the effectiveness of this basic stretch is amplified, as you can see here.
A significant reduction in tension headaches is an extra advantage.
While we look at the spaghetti of muscles that surround the nerves, it’s easy to see why they need to be stretched and released when they’re squeezing them.
You can do this exercise as often as you like as long as it’s comfortable, and you’ll notice a difference in your posture.
The chin tuck exercise can be done in a few easy steps.
Keep your head and spine straight as you sit or stand.
Exhale and slowly lift your chin backward, using your fingertips to offer gentle pressure if desired.
Apply enough pressure with your fingertips to produce a double chin. Jabba the Hutt comes to mind ;O)
Don’t overstretch your muscles, and if you feel any discomfort or pain, stop immediately.
Return to the original position after 5 to 10 seconds of holding.
Combine this super stretch with a neck massager to increase its effectiveness.
2. Neck Rotations
Head or neck rotations from side to side are a great way to relieve stiffness and tension in the back of your neck and occipital muscles.
This exercise not only reduces the severity of discomfort, but it also improves neck mobility.
When combined with the neck massager, this is yet another crucial exercise that provides significant relief.
This is how you should go about doing this basic workout.
Take a seat in a relaxing chair.
Maintain proper alignment of your head and neck with your spine.
Slowly turn your head to the left.
Make sure your head is in a straight position.
Stretch to the left as far as you can without straining or injuring yourself.
Hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds while keeping your gaze on the left shoulder.
For novices, 10 seconds is sufficient.
Return your head to its original position slowly.
For 20 seconds, twist your head to the right side and look over your right shoulder.
Make sure you stretch your head as far as you can again.
Return to your regular position and repeat the exercise two or three times more if desired, but once is a good start.
3. Stretches on the sides
Side stretches are one of the most effective exercises for releasing tension in the neck, trapezius, shoulders, and occipital muscles.
If done correctly and attentively, this exercise will improve neck mobility.
This exercise is commonly performed after using the massager and before going to bed since it leaves our necks feeling very relaxed and ready to flop into a lovely pillow.
Make sure your back is straight.
Maintain appropriate head and neck alignment with your spine.
Lean to the left with your chin tucked in little.
Stretch gently without straining or harming yourself; instead use your hand.
Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds.
Return your head to its original position slowly, then relax for a few moments.
Rep the process on the other side.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Medications and three steroid injections, with or without botulinum toxin, can help to “quiet down” hyperactive nerves.
Some patients respond well to non-invasive therapy and do not require surgery; however, some patients do not respond well to non-invasive therapy and may require surgical treatment in the future.
“What exercises should I avoid with occipital neuralgia?” is the following inquiry. Excessive stress in the neck muscles should be avoided during exercises.
Lifting large weights for exercise or engaging in vigorous activity can cause muscles to contract and compress the occipital nerves.
Some persons have a sudden, intense discomfort in the occipital area during organized exercise or other physical activity (headache at the top of the neck and base of the skull).