Greater Occipital Nerve Block

What is an Occipital Nerve Block and why is it helpful?

An occipital nerve block is an injection of numbing medicine next to the occipital nerves. There are occipital nerves on either side of the head, located just underneath the scalp on the back of the head. These are the greater and lesser occipital nerves. The greater occipital nerve provides sensation to the back and top part of the head. They can be a source of headache pain and what is called occipital neuralgia.
Therefore, an occipital nerve block is designed to stop the pain sensation traveling through the occipital nerves. There are two occipital nerves, the greater and lesser. The injection is most often used to diagnose and treat cervicogenic headaches along with occipital neuralgia, and has also been shown to provide pain relief for migraine sufferers. So it has two purposes, including both a diagnostic one and a therapeutic one.
A significant amount of the time individuals experiencing occipital neuralgia also have arthritis and associated cervical pain coming from a problem in the neck. This may include arthritis in the facet joints of the neck. Therefore, patients will often require injections into the facet joints of the neck along with the occipital block for best results.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure will take place at our Joint Commission Accredited facility. The procedure takes just a few minutes and will be performed under local anesthetic. In order to achieve the most pain relief, our physicians will often move the needle under the skin while injecting numbing medicine to block both of the patient’s occipital nerves.

What happens after the procedure?

You will go back to the recovery area where you will be monitored for a short time. You will then be released and given a follow-up appointment or another procedure appointment if needed. This procedure is usually repeated in two (2) weeks. You will be asked to closely monitor your pain level for the next day or two, to determine what percentage of relief you get and for how long.

General Pre/Post Instructions

Since this procedure is generally performed under local anesthetic you will not need a responsible party to drive you home following the procedure.  If you are on Coumadin, Heparin, Plavix, or any other blood thinners (including aspirin), or the diabetic medication Glucophage, you MUST notify the office so the timing of these medications can be explained. You will be at our facility approximately 1-2 hours for your procedure. If you are receiving sedation, you MUST have a driver with you and the driver must sign the release at the front desk when you check in.

You may return to your normal activities the day after the procedure, including returning to work.