Headaches can be extremely debilitating and hinder everyday life. OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine offers an occipital nerve block to patients who are suffering from certain types of tension and migraine headaches in the Dallas, Ft. Worth and Arlington area.
What are the Different Types of Headaches?
- Tension Headaches are the most common type of headaches. Patients feel pressure around the back of the head and neck. They rarely halt daily activity.
- Cluster Headaches are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. Symptoms include severe, debilitating pain on the side of the head and sometimes are accompanied by watery eyes and/or nasal congestion.
- Sinus Headaches occur when the sinuses become inflamed due to an infection. Accompanied symptoms can include fever, runny nose, sneezing and sore throat.
- Rebound Headaches are due to an overuse of painkillers for headaches. Ironically, too much medication can cause the brain to shift to an excited state, triggering more headaches. These headaches are typically triggered by over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Migraine Headaches are the most debilitating form of headaches. A migraine is classified as at least 5 pervious episodes of headaches lasting between 4-72 hours. Symptoms can include pain on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Typically, occipital nerve blocks are for patients who are suffering form tension and migraine headaches.
What is an Occipital Nerve Block?
Inflammation and swelling around the occipital nerve can be the source of headache pain. An occipital nerve block is an injection of steroid around the occipital nerves located in the back of the head just above the neck area. The steroid injection reduces inflammation and swelling of tissue around the nerve. This reduction of swelling and inflammation ultimately leads to a reduction of pain.
How does an Occipital Nerve Block Work?
After a diagnosis and an occipital nerve block has been decided as the right treatment option, an appointment will be scheduled. Typically, patients will not need to be sedated for this procedure. The injection consists of local anesthetic and a steroid medication. Patients will either be seated or lying down. Local anesthetic will be placed at the point of insertion. Once the anesthetic is in place, a small needle with the steroid will be inserted through the skin and deeper tissue in the back of the head. Patients report minimal pain.
What Should I Expect After an Occipital Nerve Block?
Immediately after the injection, patients may feel that the pain is completely gone or reduced. This is due to the local anesthetic, which will only last a few hours. Pain may return and soreness may occur in the back of the head for a day or two. Patients should begin to notice more lasting pain relief within 3 to 5 days and the relief can range for several days to a few months.
Patients will rest briefly in the office after the injection. Most patients will be able to drive themselves home. We do advise to take it easy for several hours after the procedure.
How Many Occipital Nerve Blocks Do I Need?
If you respond to the injections, you may be recommended for additional injections should your symptoms return. If needed, injections can be done about one week apart, but we do not like to perform more than three occipital nerve blocks in a six-month period.
If the first injection does not relieve symptoms within the first week or two we may recommend trying a second one. If you do not respond to the injections we will discuss alternative treatment options.