Occipital Nerve Block Injections
Occipital nerve blocks are most often used in the diagnosis and treatment of Occipital Neuralgia and Cervicogenic headaches. The procedure numbs the greater and lesser occipital nerves, which are located in the back of the head, superficial to the skull, just below the scalp. Occipital Neuralgia is often diagnosed after a patient receives trauma to the nerves over the back of the head (occiput nerves). Occipital Neuralgia can be detected by an acute onset of pain in the occipital nerves. Cervicogenic headaches also affect the occipital nerves, but involve a more chronic headache that comes on insidiously. When an occipital nerve block is performed on a patient suffering from cervicogenic headaches, the results often include a decline in analgesic consumption, limitations in functional activities, nausea and vomiting, headache duration, photophobia, and phonophobia.
Utah Occipital Nerve Blocks Treatment
Occipital nerve blocks often start with local anesthetic being injected into the area around the occipital nerve. Then a needle is inserted beneath the scalp in order to deliver anesthetic and corticosteroids to the nerve and the surrounding area. This will block the lesser and the greater occipital nerves. If the procedure is effective and pain relief is achieved, it is also useful in diagnosing occipital neuralgia. If it is effective, it will also be recommended that the patient returns for repeat injections, as occipital nerve blocks tend to be most effective as a series of blocks. In addition, an occipital nerve stimulator may be recommended if the physician believes it will continue to be affective in reduction of pain. Patients receiving a series of injections should experience relief for several months.
Risks and Benefits of an Occipital Nerve Injection
Although occipital nerve blocks are considered a safe and effective procedure, there are always risks, side-effects and potential complications. The most common adverse effect is soreness in the scalp where the needle was inserted, though it is typically mild and temporary. Because the scalp is very vascular, bleeding is a common but easily stopped side effect. Less common risks include excessive bleeding, nerve damage, and infection. An effective procedure will be marked with relief from cervicogenic headaches and will help the patient resume normal activities.