What are the symptoms of occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia causes pain, dysfunction and damage to the nerves and muscles of the occipital region located at the back of the neck, and it may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of occipital neuralgia

You may experience occipital neuralgia symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these symptoms can be severe:

  • Numbness or loss of function in the back of your head, scalp or neck
  • Pain if you touch the back of your head, scalp or neck, or if you move or press down on the affected area
  • Pain that you would describe as a stabbing or burning feeling in the back of your head, scalp or neck
  • Sensitivity to touch

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, occipital neuralgia symptoms may actually indicate a life-threatening stroke. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening sudden symptoms including:

  • Abnormal pupil size or nonreactivity to light
  • Balance problems, difficulty walking, or falls
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment
  • Muscle numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis or inability to move a body part
  • Problems speaking
  • Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
  • Worst headache of your life

What is occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is a disorder in which a problem with the occipital nerve in the back of the skull causes pain between the back of the head and the scalp, as well as pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and possible damage to the nerves and muscles in the back of the neck. True occipital neuralgia is rare, especially compared to migraine headaches.

Occipital neuralgia is most c... Read more about occipital neuralgiaintroduction


What causes occipital neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is caused by multiple factors. The most common cause of occipital neuralgia is head trauma. Injury to the neck, such as whiplash, may result in inflammation and damage to the occipital region, causing nerve irritation and pain. Occipital neuralgia may be caused by pinching or trapping of the nerve root in the neck, with tight muscles, tumors, and certain spine conditions bei... Read more about occipital neuralgiacauses


How is occipital neuralgia treated?

Treatment for occipital neuralgia begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have occipital neuralgia, your health care provider may ask you to undergo diagnostic tests.

Pain-relieving treatment for occipital neuralgia may be effective for reducing your pain. Analgesics (pain relievers) are used in the treatment of occipital neuralgia. It ... Read more about occipital neuralgiatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves