Is Occipital Nerve Pain Differ From Normal Migraine Or Headache?
Is Occipital Nerve Pain Differ From Normal Migraine Or Headache?

People usually don’t get proper treatment or cure for their headache or migraine, as there are various types of headaches or migraines which may not be a normal one and is a nerve pain actually. People suffering from such pain is actually an Occipital nerve pain or migraine.

So yes Occipital nerve pain or headache is something different from normal headache or migraine. Below we will be discussing how is Occipital neuralgia different from other types of migraine, its symptoms, causes, and its treatment.

Occipital Nerve Pain

Different Between Occipital Nerve Pain And Migraine Headache

Migraine cause due to certain changes in the brain, whereas Occipital nerve pain or migraine is caused when there is some nerve compression or irritation run down or up from the neck portion or at the back of your scalp. Thus, Occipital Migraine and Normal migraine are not at all same and they even have to get different treatments for cure.

What is Migraine?

Migraine headache is a type of neurological issue, which can be recognized by various symptoms. One such is frequent intense enfeeble headache. More in addition to it, a person suffering from migraines can go through nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. It can pass on to generation to generation.

What is Occipital Never Pain?

Occipital Neuralgia (ON) is one such type of nerve pain from which people gets certain headache almost similar to migraine. ON is a state of the nerve which runs through the top of the spinal cord to the scalp of the head named Occipital nerve. When this nerve gets injured or inflamed or got compressed due to any reason, you will feel pain. Pain exactly starts in the lower back of the head or at the bottom of the skull. 


Occipital neuralgia is a disorder that happens if there is some pressure or irritation unknowing giving to occipital nerves. This may take place if you have any injury or trapping nerves due to muscle tightening or simply inflammation. It had to recognize the main cause even by doctors.

This occipital nerve pain could be primary or secondary. Below are the secondary causes of ON which lead to unbearable head pain.

  1. Trauma to the back of the head
  2. Neck tension or tight neck muscles
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Tumors in the neck
  5. Cervical disc disease
  6. Infection
  7. Gout
  8. Diabetes
  9. Blood vessel inflammation


Symptoms are more likely to be intense unbearable headaches just like a migraine. But if you are suffering from Occipital neuralgia or occipital nerve pain, you would feel a sharp, electric shock or jab behind your neck or lower scalp.

There are more such symptoms that will be relating to on head pain.

  1. Aching, burning, and throbbing pain at the back of the neck and goes to the scalp
  2. Pain on both or one side of the head
  3. Pain behind the eye causing eye-watering or eye redness
  4. Sensitivity to light or sound
  5. Tender scalp
  6. Pain when you move your neck


There is no such particular diagnosis that will confirm that type of pain you are suffering is of Occipital neuralgia only. When you will go to a doctor, initially you will go through a physical examination. When the occipital nerve gets pressed, it will feel like little tenderness or pulpiness over that region which will produce non-toleratable pain. 

Furthermore, doctor if find symptoms similar to occipital nerve pain then they might give you temporary anesthesia to that nerve called a nerve block. If the patient gets relief from pain, then its sure that suffering comes from Occipital neuralgia.

In higher cases, the doctor will prescribe you to have a blood test, or MRI or CT scan to confirm is the suffering is from ON. By getting this done, the doctor can give you the appropriate diagnosis of the pain to get relief from it.


Though, diagnosis of Occipital Neuralgia is a little bit difficult to understand, as there is no such certain test that will define it. But after you get diagnosed and get confirmed that the headache you are getting is from ON. The doctor will proceed with its treatment so that you get cured and feel refiled from the unbearable pain you are going through.

So there are two types of treatment one is the non-surgical and the second one is surgical treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment

People usually prefer to have non-surgical treatment with the help of certain medicines and therapy. Below is some treatment doctor follow on a patient with Occipital Neuralgia.

  • By using a heating pad at the back of the neck or the portion of pain, the patient often gets relief by the head.
  • Some physical therapy or messages are there to get rid of it.
  • Some prescribed medicines are there to get comfort from pain.
    1. Anti-inflammatory medications;
    2. Muscle relaxants; and
    3. Anticonvulsant medications
  • Injections as Percutaneous nerve blocks can be used not only at the time of diagnosis but also to cure actual pain of Occipital neuralgia or occipital nerve pain.
  • Another injection named Botulinum Toxin (Botox) is been inject to decrease inflammation doing on in nerve.

Surgical treatment

Surgical treatment is the last option for those patients who are not getting cured with medicines or injections or any type of therapy. Below are some of the surgeries taken by doctors in harsh conditions.

  1. Occipital Nerve Stimulation: under this operation, electrodes will be placed under your skin near the occipital nerves. This work as the same as stimulation in the spinal cord is done, even device use for it is the same.
  2. Spinal Cord Stimulation: in this stimulating electrodes device will be placed between the spinal cord and the vertebrae. This device releases electrical impulses which will blick the pain releasing from the spinal cord to the brain.

C2,3 Ganglionectomy: this treatment comes in the procedure when you are under second and third cervical sensory dorsal root ganglion. Study says that 95% patient who goes through this treatment get immediate relief from the problem of Occipital Neuralgia for least 1 year.

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