Pain Management With Occipital Nerve Blocks

There are many ways to manage pain, with or without medicine. A pain management center is a perfect facility for a person with chronic pain that other doctors have not found relief. One application that is being used today is occipital nerve blocks.

An occipital block is done as an outpatient visit with an injection on either side of the patient’s head near the areas of pain felt by the occipital nerves. The base of the head receives sensations by these peripheral nerves and move bilaterally to the top of the head.

There has been a lot of research and studies done by pain management center staff members on occipital nerve blocks and migraines, and there is more research and study needed to fully understand them.

But they have shown to work great for cervicogenic headaches, cluster headaches, and occipital neuralgia. In addition, there are patients that have had good results in helping their headaches, replacing the overuse of narcotic medications.

An occipital block is administered by a staff physician who sterilizes the site of the injection, including around the area where there is the most tenderness to palpation. The injection contains both numbing medicine and a steroid.

The studies that have been performed have not defined if the addition of the steroid is necessary for making the results of the procedure last longer. It has been hypothesized that the numbing medicine can break the pain cycle that is experienced from different types of headaches. Because there is not proof positive that the steroid helps or not, adding the steroid is typically included.

Regardless the type of pain management being implemented, occipital nerve blocks, in general, do not produce results that are effective forever. As such, any pain management center will have to repeated procedures. The time period is generally anywhere from two weeks to as long as three months.

By definition, occipital neuralgia involves tenderness close to the occipital nerves. However, not all headache types experience that tenderness, such as cluster, migraine, and tension headaches. Results from one study indicated that approximately 50% of those studied did not have that tenderness located in the area of the nerves.

This makes it still unclear if tenderness should be present before the injection will work. Nevertheless, several research studies have shown that patients that have this tenderness near and around the occipital nerves and received an occipital block had a higher chance of the block being a success.

A pain management center is fully equipped with the staff and medical equipment and supplies needed to perform an occipital block. The facility is usually connected to or close proximity to a major hospital should the patient have any adverse reaction or problems. With a staff of various specialties, this is one of the best options for anyone that has chronic headaches.