Occipital nerve blocking is a treatment available for certain types of chronic head and neck pain. It can be used in the treatment of occipital neuralgia and a group of related conditions that cause headaches.
Occipital neuralgia leads to headaches in the occipital region at the back of the head and neck. What causes this condition is unclear at this time and is mostly spontaneous for patients but in some cases can occur due to trauma, whiplash injury, or other impacts to the back of the head and neck. This condition can be confused with migraines and it can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting as well.
This procedure is done under fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance, and can be performed with or without sedation. After recognizing the landmarks and relative place of the nerve, an injection of local anesthetic that may include a steroid is applied very closely to the nerve. By evaluating the patient in next few hours after the procedure, the physician is able to understand and diagnose the most possible cause of the headaches and apply custom treatment for maximum efficiency.
By performing radiofrequency ablation of the occipital nerve as the next step, patients can benefit from more long-lasting pain relief.