What is an occipital nerve block?
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, including certain types of tension headaches and migraine headaches, may respond to occipital nerve blocks.
What is actually injected?
The injection consists of a local anesthetic and a steroid medication.
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 are the risks and side effects of occipital nerve blocks?
Generally speaking, this procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Other uncommon risks involve infection, bleeding, worsening of symptoms etc. Fortunately, serious side effects and complications are uncommon.
PLEASE INFORM OUR OFFICE IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- ALLERGY TO CONTRAST OR IODINE
- TAKE ANY BLOOD THINNING MEDICATION SUCH AS COUMADIN, PLAVIX, ASPIRIN OR NSAID.
- HAVE AN INFECTION ANYWHERE IN YOUR BODY.