The occipital nerves are located on both sides of the posterior portion of the scalp, where the top of the neck meets the base of the skull. These pain transmitting nerves innervate the rear half of the scalp and upper neck, and are often responsible for contributing to chronic headache and migraine related pain. An occipital nerve block is performed to alleviate pain by blocking the transmission of pain signals that travel through these nerves. The procedure is minimally invasive and takes approximately five to ten minutes to perform with minimal complication and no downtime.
The injection is normally not performed with IV sedation, whereas a local anesthetic will be administered to prevent injection discomfort. A small, thin needle is inserted at the base of the skull in the area of the occipital nerve where the medicine is injected. Patients are able to drive themselves home afterwards, and pain relief should start immediately following the procedure.
Most patients feel relief for several days to several months following occipital nerve blockade. Frequently, a second injection may be required to help alleviate this type of pain which is chronic in nature, oftentimes with an interval of two weeks between injections.