Greater Occipital Nerve Block

Defined

When the greater occipital nerves are irritated by inflammation or swelling they can cause both migraine and tension headaches. The nerves are located at the back of the head above the neck area. This procedure is a nerve block injection that targets pain related to inflammation of these nerves.

Procedure

In this outpatient procedure, a physician administers the injection consisting of a local anesthetic and a long-lasting steroid to relieve pain. The patient is seated or lying face down for the procedure. A bandage is placed over the injection site and the patient is monitored for a short time in the office to mitigate any risk. The entire injection procedure takes only a few minutes.

After Care

The patient should feel some immediate pain relief due to the local anesthetic but a longer-term relief should generally take effect within a few days and can provide months of pain relief. There may be soreness around the injection site up to two days following that can be treated with ice. Patients should be ready to return to work the next day. Pain relief from the local anesthetic will wear off within a few hours to a day. The steroid will generally take effect within a few days and can provide days to months of pain relief. The injection may be repeated if necessary. If relief isn’t achieved, the injection can be considered as a diagnostic tool and other procedures should be considered.