What is an Occipital Nerve Block?
The occipital nerves are a group of nerves that wrap around the base of the skull and lower to mid regions of the scalp. When these nerves become irritated, they cause frequent headaches and migraines.
As such, an occipital nerve block targets the occipital region to stop the pain. This involves the injection of both an anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroids into the area around the occipital nerve. Some physicians may only inject the anesthetic if they find it more suitable for the patient.
First, your physician will have you lying face down. Then, they’ll apply a numbing solution to the area of injection – generally, this is at the back of the head, right above the neck. Afterwards, your doctor will use a fine needle to inject the solution (the local anesthetic and steroid).
The occipital nerve block injection procedure only takes a few minutes. Some doctors may even perform the procedure in the office as well.
What To Know Before an Occipital Nerve Block Procedure
Right after an occipital nerve block injection, you could feel pain relief in as little as 15 minutes. The full effect of the anesthetic and steroid for pain relief may last anywhere from a few weeks to months depending on the individual.
You may also experience some swelling in the area of injection after your occipital nerve block. This swelling will disappear after the steroids take full effect. Following the procedure, many physicians will allow you to resume your daily activities.
Depending on your condition and how frequently you experience migraines and headaches, you may need more than one occipital nerve block within a year. If you experience chronic headaches and migraines 3-4 procedures a year will help mitigate the pain.
Is an Occipital Nerve Block Right for You?
Generally, doctors recommend an occipital nerve block if you experience:
- Chronic migraines and headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Spondylosis of the cervical facet joints as a result of age and degeneration of the neck bones
- Constant tingling, shooting pain, or burning sensation that is located at the back of the head
Are Occipital Nerve Blocks safe for everyone
While this procedure is highly effective at managing pain, it’s not meant for everyone. For example, people who are allergic to either the anesthetic or steroids should avoid this procedure as it may not be safe.
For patients who have diabetes or heart-related conditions may also want to refrain from this procedure. This is because steroids can cause an elevation in blood sugar levels.
Occipital Nerve Block Doctors in OKC
While we all experience headaches from stress and muscle tension, frequent migraines and head pain should prompt you to visit a doctor. If an occipital nerve block is required, this simple procedure may be the help you need to relieve chronic pain. At OK Pain Doc in OKC, doctors are equipped to diagnose whether an occipital nerve block is required, and will carry out the procedure effectively. Contact us to learn more about Occipital Nerve Blocks in OKC.