If you want to know more about lesser occipital nerve block, we recommend that you read on.
There is a group of headaches that doctors call cervicogenic headaches, ie headaches of cervical origin. Doctors believe that in a group of these headaches, which originate from the back of the head, the posterior nerves, including the lesser occipital nerve, are involved.
In this article, we want to introduce you to one of the ways to control and reduce chronic and annoying rapid headaches in the back of the head. In the following, we will talk more about small occipital nerve block.
Small occipital nerve anatomy
The small occipital nerve, called lesser or small, is said to originate in the spinal cord, ie the spinal roots are involved in the formation of this nerve. In fact, the small occipital nerve is a cutaneous spinal nerve that protrudes between the first and second cervical vertebrae and moves along the large occipital nerve. The function of the small occipital nerve is to innervate the skin of the occipital region on both sides of the back of the head and behind the ear.
It is said that the size of this nerve varies and usually it can sometimes be bifurcated. This nerve also exits the branches of the ear, which these branches innervate the skin above and behind the eardrums. Disorders that can occur due to inflammation and damage and pressure on this nerve can be referred to as occipital neuralgia.
What causes occipital neuralgia?
This neuralgia usually occurs spontaneously or may be due to pressure on the spinal nerve root in the neck, such as joint inflammation and arthritis, or due to a complication of an injury, trauma, or recent surgery in the area. and sometimes Spasm of the muscles behind and above the neck and head may put pressure on the small occipital nerve.
What is the effect of Small occipital nerve block?
As we have said, the Small occipital nerve is a cutaneous branch of the cervical neural network that innervates only the skin of the upper part of the neck, behind the neck and the part of the scalp skin that is behind and above the eardrum.
What causes nerve damage and inflammation?
We said that injuries to this nerve are one of the most common causes of occipital neuralgia. Among the most common causes of this injury are the following:
- Recent blows and traumas
- whiplash injury
- Recent surgeries
In other words, in general, any factor that stimulates or compresses the occipital nerve can cause damage, inflammation and discomfort and pain in the occipital region, such as:
Muscle spasms and stiffness, joint inflammation, and vertebral problems or even the presence of a tumor.
How is a Small occipital nerve block performed?
Small occipital nerve block is a procedure that will be performed in the office or clinic by a specialist doctor. During this injection, the analgesic substance is drawn together with corticosteroids into a large syringe and injected in special places where the small occipital nerve passes. This method, which is a Small occipital nerve block, is actually used as a treatment for neurological pain and migraine in the back of the head. A very fine syringe and needle is used for injection, and the injection is done in the back and behind the head, just above your neck.
Following this injection, your skin will be numb for a while.
The injection site is usually described as follows, laterally and slightly inferiorly to the neck.
The small occipital nerve is an ascending branch of the cervical neural network that travels on the surface of the SCM muscle. Also, this nerve may sometimes be detected by ultrasound in order to select well the points needed for the block. In other words, usually the occipital nerve blocks are performed under ultrasound guidance.
What are the risks of Small occipital nerve block?
Doctors believe that nerve blocks will be generally safe and secure, however, as with any treatment, there may be some risks involved. For example, it is said that the most common complication following lesser occipital nerve block is irritation and pain at the injection site. Some of the side effects that you may experience following injection into a small occipital block are as follows:
- Lightness of the head
We must emphasize that these complications will disappear spontaneously and without the need for treatment within the next six to eight hours after the injection for small occipital nerve block. Also, another point that we must say is that because it is injected with painkillers and corticosteroids, a person may suffer from generalized side effects from corticosteroids for up to two weeks. For example, these people may have a high mood or have insomnia, hot flashes, or fluid retention or women may have menstrual irregularities. Corticosteroids can also cause high blood glucose levels. One of the rare but possible side effects after injections for small occipital nerve block can be thinning hair at the injection site as well as hair loss in this area.
How long will the effect of the Small occipital nerve block last?
It is said that people will usually use the positive effects of this block for a few weeks to a few months. Following this block, the severity of your occipital headaches will be reduced and the number of times your occipital neuralgia attack will significantly decrease.
Of course, in some people, the positive effects may last only a few days, but in general, on average, the effects will last for a few weeks to a few months, usually two to three months.
What is the frequency of recurrence of this small occipital nerve block?
It is said that it is best to see your doctor at intervals of two to three months for re-injection for small occipital nerve block.
What are the methods used with small occipital nerve block?
Usually, the following two techniques can be used to enhance the effectiveness of the injection and to block the small occipital nerve, as well as to increase the shelf life of the positive effects of this block and to reduce the severity and frequency of recurrent occipital headache attacks:
- Use of radio frequency waves
Both procedures should be performed under sedation and in the operating room. The following results will usually be evident following the combination of a small occipital nerve block with any of the above
- Increasing the shelf life of positive results from the nerve block:
Usually in these cases, the positive results remain for six months to twelve months, and thus you will be exempted from the need to repeat the injection for the block, in addition to the severity of attacks in each attack.
- Also, the number of occipital headache attacks will be significantly reduced. Of course, we must say that usually following these two combinations of these two methods with nerve block, especially in combination with cryotherapy, in addition to small occipital nerve block, a person may have numbness in the back of the head and neck, up to several times.