Does a bad headache automatically indicate occipital neuralgia? Can you get occipital neuralgia if you have never had a neck injury?
Headaches can occur for various reasons, so there is no need to conclude that you have occipital neuralgia. Occipital neuralgia is not always associated with a neck injury. You may have tense muscles in your neck impinging on the nerve. If you have a persistent headache, see your doctor.
How do you sleep with occipital neuralgia?
On your back. The best way to find relief from occipital neuralgia is to sleep on your back with a pillow providing neck support.
Pillows such as memory foam are soft and supportive while adapting to the contours of your cervical spine and head.
If you do not find it easy to sleep on your side, the next best alternative is to sleep on your side. It’s still essential to have adequate neck support to provide maximum relief.
Your main objective for sleeping in either position is to not sleep with your head raised. Try to keep a position that aligns your spine, which will take pressure from the muscles surrounding your neck’s nerves.
What causes occipital neuralgia to flare up?
Normally tension in your neck. Occipital neuralgia can occur spontaneously or due to a bad sleeping position.
Occipital neuralgia is a pinched nerve in the base of your neck, it can be caused by feeling over tense, and the muscles become hard and engorged with blood causing them to swell, which pinches the nerve.
You may not notice the neck discomfort at first, as the pain from pinching the occipital nerve can be overwhelming.
People with arthritis or prior neck injuries can be susceptible to spontaneous flare-ups of occipital neuralgia.
Why is occipital neuralgia so painful?
The occipital nerves are inflamed or injured. The occipital nerve runs through your neck and scalp, and even combing your hair can be painful when the nerve has become inflamed through injury or impinged by tense muscles.
The pain can be severe with a throbbing sensation or pain like being shocked. The pain can be in the upper head, behind the ears, and even radiating down towards the middle of your upper back.
Nerve pain is always debilitating due to the nerve cab transmitting pain signals to other areas of your body.
How do I calm my occipital nerves?
It can be difficult, and you may need to seek help from your doctor. For self-help, you can try the following few methods to try and relieve the pain:
- Apply heat to your neck, use a hot water bottle with a towel wrapped around it and let the heat penetrate the neck.
- Take over the counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol or Ibuprofen. The latter may help more with its anti-inflammatory properties
- Get your partner to massage your neck with a warming balm gently. Massaging the muscles can reduce inflammation and relieve the symptoms of occipital neuralgia
- Rest in a dark, quiet room and make the room conducive to sleep. Make the room cool and ditch the smartphone to avoid the blue light that will keep you awake.
Is occipital neuralgia worse when lying down?
Possibly. The sleeping position you adopt can impact occipital neuralgia; They sleep on your back with your spins aligned by a supportive, firm but comfortable pillow that is placed under your neck and head.
If you adopt the wrong sleeping position, this can be the trigger for days of pain from occipital neuralgia.
What type of pillow is best for occipital neuralgia?
A cervical pillow. You may need to purchase a cervical pillow from an orthopedic company. The cervical pillow will support your cervical spine and prevent the frequency of occipital neuralgia.
Is occipital neuralgia serious?
It’s not life-threatening. Any severe pain you feel that affects your movements should be considered serious and needs attention.
Occipital neuralgia is not life-threatening but can be extremely painful, so it’s important to take action to reduce the effects of the inflammation in the base of your neck.
If the pain persists, you should consult your doctor, who can prescribe stronger pain killers and a more effective anti-inflammatory drug.
Does occipital neuralgia affect the eyes?
Yes. Occipital neuralgia can cause vision disturbances like blurred vision. You may also experience balance issues with occipital neuralgia.
If you have balance and vision issues, it’s important to see your doctor without delay for some effective treatment.
Stay off work and do not drive until the symptoms have improved.
What type of doctor should I see for occipital neuralgia?
In the first instance, you should see your family doctor, who will make a referral if he feels it is necessary.
The impingement of nerves can cause migraine or other severe headaches. But for those of you with occipital neuralgia, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist or head and neck specialist.
Either of the specialists will examine the severity of the injury, and if required, you may need surgery to relieve the impinging of the nerve.
Can a chiropractor help with nerve pain in the head?
Yes, A chiropractor may be a good first step for self-help, as your doctor is unlikely to refer you to a chiropractor.
Chiropractors make adjustments to the alignment of your spine. These small adjustments with load pops can work miracles in relieving occipital neuralgia.
Chiropractors offer a non-invasive procedure that can be combined with anti-inflammatories and pain killers for your doctor.
How long does it take for occipital neuralgia to go away?
4 to 8 weeks. It takes some time for everything to settle down with occipital neuralgia, so the recovery time is protracted.
In rare cases, it can last much longer, maybe a year.
If you are older than 50 years, you should consider being vaccinated against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.