Occipital neuralgia is a chronic pain disorder
caused by irritation or injury to the occipital nerve located in the
back of the scalp. Individuals with the disorder experience pain
originating at the nape of the neck. The pain, often described as
throbbing and migraine-like, spreads up and around the forehead and
scalp. Occipital neuralgia can result from physical stress, trauma,
or repeated contraction of the muscles of the neck.
Treatment is generally symptomatic and includes
massage and rest. In some cases, antidepressants may be used when
the pain is particularly severe. Other treatments may include local
nerve blocks and injections of steroids directly into the affected
Within the NINDS research programs, occipital neuralgia
is addressed primarily through studies on pain. NINDS vigorously
pursues a research program that seeks to find new treatments for
pain and nerve damage and to understand the underlying biological
processes associated with pain.
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