Occipital Nerve Blocks

Doctor and patient

Occipital nerve blocks are used to treat a condition called occipital neuralgia. Occipital neuralgia is a painful condition affecting the back of the head in the distributions of the greater occipital nerve, lesser occipital nerve, or third occipital nerve. The pain can last from a few seconds to several hours. It can be a sharp shooting pain that may lead to significant functional limitations.There are multiple modalities to treat this condition. Occipital nerve blocks are a simple way of injecting local anesthetic around these nerves. This can reduce spasm in the muscle that can compress these nerves. Additionally, we can target the origination of the greater, lesser and third occipital nerve, which is in the upper portion of the cervical spine. Diagnostic medial branch blocks can isolate this site as a treatment target. Once confirmed, radiofrequency ablation/rhizotomy is a good option for long term relief. Lastly, there has been good success with peripheral nerve stimulation for patients who have not responded well to other treatment modalities.

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