Occipital Nerve Block
An occipital nerve block is an injection of a steroid or other medication around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head just above the neck area. The steroid injected reduces the inflammation and swelling of tissue around the occipital nerves. This may in turn reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerves and surrounding structures.
Typically, headaches over the back of the head, including certain types of tension headaches and migraine headaches, may respond to occipital nerve blocks. An occipital nerve block injection takes only a few minutes, and is usually done without any sedation. There is local anesthetic within the injection.
Immediately after the injection, you may feel that your pain may be gone or significantly lessened. This is due to the local anesthetic injected. This will last only for a few hours. Your pain may return and you may have a sore head for a day or two. This is due to the mechanical process of needle insertion as well as initial irritation from the steroid itself. You should start noticing a more lasting pain relief starting the third day or so, and its effect can last for several days to a few months.
The occipital nerve block injections are done about one week apart only if needed. If the first injection does not relieve your symptoms in about a week to two weeks, you may be recommended to have a second injection. If you respond to the injections, you may be recommended for additional injections when the symptoms return.