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What is an occipital nerve block?

Occipital nerve block is a type of therapeutic pain block that involves injecting a local anesthetic in the area around the occipital nerves. These nerves, which are located in the back of the head, are often involved in migraine and other headaches (such as occipital neuralgia).

Occipital nerve blocks relieve headaches by blocking pain signals that the occipital nerves send to the brain.

What is occipital nerve block used for?

Occipital nerve block is used to treat occipital neuralgia and chronic headaches, such as chronic migraine. You may feel relief from headache pain within 15 minutes of treatment, but this varies by individual. Others may not have full relief of symptoms for a few days.

The length of time before symptoms reappear can also vary widely, lasting only days for some people but months for others. Occipital nerve block is usually not a cure for occipital neuralgia and chronic headaches.

Am I a good candidate for occipital nerve block?

You may be a good candidate for occipital nerve block if you have:

  • Occipital neuralgia
  • Chronic migraine
  • Some other kinds of chronic headache
  • Cluster headache
  • Hemicrania continua

Occipital nerve block tends to be less effective or ineffective for:

  • Tension headache
  • Intracranial Hypotension
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Complications from occipital nerve blocks are rare. You will experience temporary numbness over regions supplied by the occipital nerves, along with mild soreness at the injection sites for 3-5 days. Difficulties speaking and swallowing have been reported but only last hours at most and are rare.

Occipital nerve block is an outpatient procedure and does not require general anesthesia.

Medically Reviewed by Kerry Knievel, DO, FAHS on June 8, 2021

Request an Appointment with an Occipital Nerve Block Specialist

Call (602) 406-6262