Occipital neuralgia

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2014 May;18(5):411. doi: 10.1007/s11916-014-0411-x.


Occipital pain is a common complaint amongst patients with headache, and the differential can include many primary headache disorders such as cervicogenic headache or migraine. Occipital neuralgia is an uncommon cause of occipital pain characterized by paroxysmal lancinating pain in the distribution of the greater, lesser or third occipital nerves. Greater occipital nerve blockade with anesthetics and/or corticosteroids can aid in confirming the diagnosis and providing pain relief. However, nerve blocks are also effective in migraine headache and misdiagnosis can result in a false positive. Physical therapy and preventive medication with antiepileptics and tricyclic antidepressants are often effective treatments for occipital neuralgia. Refractory cases may require intervention with pulsed radiofrequency or occipital nerve stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Headache*
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia*
  • Spinal Nerves*