Occiptial Nerve Block

What Is an Occipital Nerve Block?

A nerve block is a procedure in which a physician administers medication to an irritated nerve in order to treat pain symptoms. An occipital nerve block is performed to manage pain that affects the back of the head or one side of the head. This includes numbness or zapping, headaches, migraines or tender scalp.

What does the procedure look like?

At Portland Pain and Spine, in order to perform the nerve block the physician administers medication by injection to the occipital nerve. Before the injection is performed, the area is numbed using local anesthetic. After the injection is performed relief is often experienced in minutes, and numbness usually immediately. If the nerve is swollen the steroids administered in the shot should relieve this pain. These steroids are long lasting, and after a few days the effect should last for months. After the procedure the patient should be able to resume normal activity, with the injection intensifying in effect over the next few days. If two weeks pass with no relief a second injection may be necessary. Additional nerve blocks may be performed for continued symptom management; however proving three or more injections within a six month period is uncommon due to the risk of side effects. As well, if the injections do not provide relief this may be proof that the occipital nerve is not the cause of symptoms. 

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