Occipital Nerve Blocks
An occipital nerve block is an injection of a steroid or other medication around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head just above the neck area.
What is the purpose of an occipital nerve block?
The steroid injected reduces the inflammation and swelling of tissue around the occipital nerves. This may in turn reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerves and surrounding structures. Typically, headaches over the back of the head, including certain types of tension headaches and migraine headaches, may respond to occipital nerve blocks.
How long does the occipital nerve block take?
The actual injection takes only a few minutes.
What is actually injected?
The injection consists of a local anesthetic and a steroid medication.
Will the occipital nerve block hurt?
The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues. So, there is some pain involved. However, the skin and deeper tissues are numbed with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle during the performance of the block.
Will I be “put out” for the occipital nerve block?
No. This procedure is done with a small thin needle, usually without any sedation. There is local anesthetic within the injection.
How is the occipital nerve block performed?
It is done with the patient seated or lying down. The skin and hair of the back of the head are cleaned with antiseptic solution and then the injection is carried out.
What should I expect after the occipital nerve block?
Immediately after the injection, you may feel that your pain may be gone or quite less. This is due to the local anesthetic injected. This will last only for a few hours. Your pain may return and you may have a sore head for a day or two. This is due to the mechanical process of needle insertion as well as initial irritation from the steroid itself. You should start noticing a more lasting pain relief starting the third day or so.
What should I do after the occipital nerve block?
You will rest for a while in the office. Most patients can drive themselves home. We advise the patient to take it easy for several hours after the procedure. You may want to apply ice to the injected area. You can perform any activity you can tolerate.