The greater and lesser occipital nerves originate at the base of the skull and run onto the back of the head. Occipital neuralgia is pain that arises from these nerves, and is usually felt as pain in the back or sides of the head. There is also a strong association between occipital nerve pain and migraine headaches. Ultrasound or x-ray guidance may be used to inject steroid and local anesthetic into the areas of these nerves to provide relief of both neck pain and headaches. Radiofrequency can also be used to provide longer relief if blocks provide good but temporary relief.
How long does an occipital nerve procedure take?
Occipital nerve blocks are very quick and usually take no more than 5 minutes per side, even when x-ray is not used. Radiofrequency ablation of the occipital nerves takes 15-20 minutes.
How will I feel afterwards?
You will probably feel relief starting within an hour of your injection or procedure, but some patients note a pressure sensation at the injection site or sites.
How long will the relief last?
Nerve blocks may last up to 2 months, but use of radiofrequency may provide relief for 6 to 12 months.