Occipital Nerve Block Injection

What is an Occipital Nerve Block Injection?

There are two greater occipital nerves on each side of the head. These nerves emerge from between the spine’s bones located in the upper back and make their way through the muscles at the back of the head. The occipital nerves process the external stimuli detected by a significant portion of the posterior top of the head. They sometimes reach nearly as far forward as the forehead but do not cover the face or the area near the ears; other nerves supply the feeling to these regions.

Sometimes, through a mechanism called “referred pain,” irritation of one of the occipital nerves can also be felt near the eye on the same side. An occipital nerve block is a procedure that involves injecting anesthetic and steroid medication into the greater and lesser occipital nerves. People afflicted by impacted occipital nerves often describe feeling pain that starts at the base of the skull affecting one side of the head. These nerve blocks are mainly administered to provide pain relief by treating chronic migraines and severe headaches.

How Do Occipital Nerve Block Injections Work?

Occipital nerve block injections are a minimally invasive procedure that consists of inserting a fine, hollow needle into the area just above the neck and injecting steroids and pain-relieving medications. A local anesthetic is applied to the injection site in order to minimize discomfort. Once patients receive the nerve block injection, pain relief is reported almost immediately, along with some neck numbness. Following the procedure, the local anesthetic’s immediate effects will wear off after a few hours; however, the steroids’ effects will be noticeable over the next several days. The procedure does not impair physical abilities. Therefore, you should be able to drive home without issues and resume all normal activities.

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How to Prepare for Occipital Nerve Block Injections

Your physician must conduct a thorough medical examination and carefully evaluate your medical and family history to successfully determine your eligibility to receive an occipital nerve block injection. This step is crucial as corticosteroids may temporarily elevate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and affect patients with bleeding problems.

Depending on the symptoms, and to experience relief for longer, patients may need to receive more than one nerve block injection. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing any of the previously discussed conditions, we encourage you to reach out to our team today. Our expert interventional pain specialists possess decades of experience in pain management and treatment. We would be happy to answer any question or concern you may have about your condition and the treatment options we offer.

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