Spasms In The Neck? It Could Be An Occipital Headache

It is common for many sufferers to confuse an occipital headache with any kind of chronic headaches or migraine. Typically, occipital headache, referred to as occipital neuralgia, arises from the neck, more specifically the base of the skull and spreads to the area behind the eyes and the back, front and side of the head.

If you are suffering from occipital headaches, the pain is likely to be a persistent, throbbing headache with intermittent spasms that feel like an electric shock around the back of the head. The skull becomes extremely tender and even mild actions like touching it, running a comb over the head or sleeping on a pillow can hurt. The headache is as painful as a migraine and some kind of treatment is in order depending on the diagnosis.

Occipital Headache: What’s Causing It?

If you find yourself suffering from this type of headache, you might wonder what is causing it. As the name suggests, the common cause involves the occipital nerves – the two nerves that originate near the second and third vertebrae of the neck.

Any injury, inflammation or irritation to these nerves trigger the pain. Pressing directly on this nerve will cause pain and this reaction is usually used as the first step by doctors in assessing the problem. This indicates some damage to the nerves either due to trauma or physical stress on the nerve or repetitious neck contractions. Other possible causes are localized infection or inflammation, gout, diabetes and blood vessel inflammation.

In some rare cases, the reason could be secondary illnesses like tumor, osteoarthritis or hemorrhage.

What Should I Do? How Treatable Is An Occipital Headache?

The problem with occipital headache is similar to other headaches where diagnosis is difficult. Often, there is no specific cause behind the pain so treatment can be challenging. Yet, once diagnosed, there are various ways to manage occipital neuralgia. The less invasive treatments are acupuncture, anti-depressant medication, and yoga among others. If this doesn’t work, surgery might be needed but it is often used as a last resort. In any case, occipital headaches would need some kind of treatment to put an end to the cycle of pain it brings on.

The National Headache Institute with its advanced treatment options and expert team of doctors has been dealing with all kinds of headaches. You can be assured of the best possible care and personalized attention. Call us at 305.440.5969 or use our contact  form to book a consultation.