Occipital Neuralgia is one of the most common diseases that people frequently confuse with migraines and other types of severe headaches due to the fact that THE SYMPTOMS ARE VERY SIMILAR! Occipital Neuralgia is a neurological disease that occurs due to the inflammation and irritation of the nerves exiting from the top of your spinal cord through the top of your neck, and back up through the scalp.
Occipital Neuralgia stated simply is nerve pain that originates from the back of the head also called the occiput that radiates out along the path of the nerves.
If you have been diagnosed with Occipital Neuralgia or are experiencing pain in the back of your head or upper neck area or even if you suffer from headaches, read on and maybe this will give you an idea of what might be causing your problem.
Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia?
Occipital Neuralgia can cause a really sharp stinging feeling which is accompanied by an intense sharp pain at the back of the head and the neck. Common symptoms for Occipital Neuralgia include:
– Pain when moving your neck
– An unusually tender scalp
– Pain behind either one of your eyes
– Heightened sensitivity to light
– Throbbing pain that gradually starts at the base of the head and radiates to the scalp
Please note: doesn’t this sound an awful lot like a migraine headache?
Injuries to The Neck and Occipital Neuralgia
An injury to the neck due to some sort of accident such as: a car wreck, sports injury (especially with concussion), a hard fall etc. is very likely to tear loose the connective tissues that hold your spine together allowing the upper neck to misalign. To make a long story short, months or even years later you are likely to develop symptoms or even worse Occipital Neuralgia. The reason being that injuries to the neck very commonly result in the misalignment of one of the two top neck bones, commonly known as Atlas or Axis; this leads to irritation and pressure in and around the brain stem, and upper spinal cord, which is the connection between the brain and the body.
The brain stem ends where the spinal cord begins, and the spinal cord is literally a bunch of nerves that tell the body what to do. Every signal is emitted from the brain stem as the master control center of the body and the spinal cord nerves are just used as a channel to convey the signals throughout the body.
A misalignment in the upper neck affects you in two ways. First, your brain is unable to communicate with the rest of your body adequately, and secondly, a misalignment in the upper neck alters your center of gravity. When your head goes off-center, your spine creates abnormal curvatures below to compensate, and this results in the loss of normal spinal curves over time. This relates to the spinal cord in that; if you lose your normal spinal curves, then you lose the extra slack in the spinal canal and your nerves exiting along the spine can end up being under tension in certain areas of the spine, much like tightening a guitar string. Your unique spinal anatomy will dictate where that tension ends up.
The 3 most common spinal compensation areas that come under high stress in the human spinal column are:
1. The upper neck
2. The lower neck, upper back and shoulder area
3. The lower back and hip area
Over time these high stress areas will become inflamed, symptoms will develop, and the spine will start to degenerate. Please note that what you may see in any anatomy textbook only occurs 30% of the time at best meaning 70% of the time spinal structures are highly variable, and especially cranial nerves and spinal nerves. Spinal nerves can begin and end in many different variations.
With Occipital Neuralgia there are 3 nerves we need to consider:
1. The suboccipital nerve – originates between Atlas or C1 and the Occiput.
2. The greater occipital nerve – originates between Atlas and Axis or C1 and C2.
3. The lesser occipital nerve – originates between Axis or C2 and C3.
Is it possible that an old injury to the neck has resulted in spinal misalignment and over the months and years since then the chronic irritation to one or all of the occipital nerves has resulted in pain in the back of your head that now radiates?
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care In Boise, Idaho
If you have been experiencing Occipital Neuralgia, it would be a good idea to look into Upper Cervical Chiropractic care and if you live in Boise, Idaho we offer a free consultation to determine if Upper Cervical Chiropractic care is right for you.
If you have already gone the medical route hopefully you have come to the conclusion that just covering up your symptoms with injections or medications will NEVER fix a spinal structural problem.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic care is designed to reposition your head and neck in the proper alignment so that the stress on your joints and muscles is removed and as the spinal structures begin to heal themselves, symptoms will start to fade away. Specialized x-rays are taken to determine the nature and quality of the misalignment. Infrared thermography is used to document irritation and interference throughout the neck. Then the spinal correction is given using a precision touch to correct it.
If you are experiencing occipital neuralgia, don’t wait! Call an Upper Cervical doctor for a Complimentary Consultation to discuss your health concerns and determine if Upper Cervical care is right for you.
~Dr. Grayson Blom