Headache disorders are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system with a prevalence of 48.9% in the general population! According the World Health Organization, half to three quarters of adults ages 18-65 years in the world have had a headache in the last year, and among those individuals, 30% or more have reported a migraine. Headache complaints account for 1 in 10 general practitioner consultations.
Often people suffering from chronic headaches report that their pain originates from their neck or the base of their skull at the occiputs. The occipital nerves reside in the base of the skull and when irritated they contribute to these headaches. When the occipital nerve becomes irritated it can cause pain that radiates up the neck/back of the head to the temple, eye or forehead and is often one-sided.
Occipital nerve blocks work by blocking the pain signal and therefore aborting the headache pain. An occipital nerve block is a quick and minimally invasive injection that is done in office. While performing an occipital nerve block, your medical provider will use a small needle to inject local anesthesia, such as lidocaine, into the greater and lesser occiputs. Most patients will feel headache and pain relief instantly.
The treatment takes less than five minutes and the patient will be able to drive and resume their regular activity immediately following the procedure. The duration of pain relief varies from days to months depending on the person. Occipital blocks may be performed in a series, if need be, to get longer lasting results.