Occipital Neuralgia is a distinct type of headache that can be extremely painful and is characterized by and a constant ache at the base of the skull and a very intense intermittent piercing pain “shooting” upwards from the sub-occipital region into the base of the skull. The headache may radiate upward and to the side regions of the head covering all or part of the area covered by a baseball helmet (Cervicogenic Headache). Often patients report pain behind the eye on the affected side. In severe cases both sides may be affected. Extreme localized tenderness is often encountered upon palpation over the occipital notches with reproduction of focal and radiating pain.  Pain may also be perceived over the neck, temple, and frontal regions. In some cases, neck movements (eg, extension and rotation) may trigger pain. Patients may have symptoms that are so severe and frequent that they are disabling. Other symptoms of occipital neuralgia may include:

•Pain on one or both sides of the head.
•Sensitivity to light (Photophobia) may be extreme, or the eyes may grow tired from cumulative sensitivity.
-Increased tear production may cause watery eye/s.
•Tender and hypersensitive scalp that feels like a burn or open wound.
•Pain when moving the neck and decreased range of motion.

Because chronic headaches are a common symptom for numerous conditions, Occipital Neuralgia is often misdiagnosed at first, most commonly as tension headache or a migraine leading to treatment failure or addiction. A positive result from a diagnostic block of the occipital nerves is indication of Occipital Neuralgia. Occipital Neuralgia is actually quite a rare condition that is often only diagnosed after some time. Once a diagnosis has been made patients often feel optimistic for the first time since the condition started, expecting that diagnosis will be followed by curative treatment. Unfortunately, this condition is notoriously difficult to treat. The condition may respond in varying degrees to treatment options and medications but there is no magic wand that will simply arrest the condition and return patients to a pain free existence.


I am not a Doctor. Information on this website should not be construed as medical advise. Information provided herein is for those who wish to gain a better understanding of this condition. Patients should always, and without exception, consult their doctor. Please understand that no website should ever be considered your primary source of medical information. Your family Doctor or a Pain Specialist are the only people who are qualified to make a diagnosis and treat a condition. Remember that you, as a patient, are always free to request a second opinion. We cannot be held liable by anyone who views this website, for any reason. It is our hope that the content of our site leads viewers (both patients and medical professionals) to a better understanding of Occipital Neuralgia from both a Medical and Patient perspective.