Occipital neuralgia can feel like lightning around the base of your skull or the back of your head. It can come on quite suddenly, and happen multiple times during the day. For many patients, it is a living nightmare. The pain can be continuously aching, burning, or throbbing, and come with sudden stabbing, shooting, or electrical means around the back of the head. It can even feel like being continuously shocked!
Sometimes small movements can trigger the pain, and sometimes it can come about from a long day at work, sleeping a certain way, or simply holding your head a certain way. Often there is no rhyme or reason to the agony.
These symptoms can sometimes be confused with normal headaches or migraines, but treatments for these different conditions can vary so a good diagnosis can be important.
If you don’t like the medications, the PT isn’t working, or you want to try something else before you try injections or surgery, keep reading. We are going to discuss acupuncture for occipital neuralgia.
What is Occipital Neuralgia Really Like?
Occipital neuralgia can vary from mild symptoms to more severe. When symptoms are more severe, they can be absolutely debilitating and make it difficult for patients to get through the day, and sometimes even the night!
Symptoms can include:
- Aching, burning, and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp
- Pain on one side or both sides of the head
- Pain with certain movements, especially when you move your neck
- Pain you feel behind the eye
- Light sensitivity
- Tender scalp
What Makes You More Prone To It?
Some of the most common conditions that can cause or contribute to occipital neuralgia include:
- Osteoarthritis of the upper neck
- Trauma to the the nerves
- Tight neck muscles compressing nerves
- Pinched nerves
- Degeneratve disc disease
- Blood vessel inflammation
How Can You Fix Occipital Neuralgia?
One of the simplest treatments for occipital neuralgia can be the application of heat. The effects of this tend to be temporary, but heat can provide relief in some cases.
Next on the list is often anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, and/or anti-convulsants. The anti-inflammatories can be hard on your stomach, and many patients do not like how they feel on muscle relaxers or anticonvulsants.
Physical therapy or massage therapy can also be used to treat occipital neuralgia.
Well none of these solutions have worked, doctors will turn to injections and sometimes even surgical procedures.
When absolutely nothing has worked, or patients want to avoid more invasive procedures, acupuncture for occipital neuralgia can often provide massive improvement where other therapies have failed.
Acupuncture For Occipital Neuralgia
Most patients never consider using acupuncture for their occipital neuralgia pain. It is often the last treatment a patient considers, with the best result.
In our clinic we see great success rates using acupuncture for occipital neuralgia, and indeed we use some unique approaches to tackle this difficult problem; but we always like to use science and research to back up and strengthen what we think is possible here at Centered: Richmond.
Research about acupuncture is truly still in its infancy, though evidence for its efficacy is growing all of the time. The best research we were able to find about acupuncture and occipital neuralgia is admittedly somewhat limited, but promising.
In a meta-analysis performed of nearly a dozen studies about acupuncture and occipital neuralgia, it is suggested that more research needs to be done, but the results were promising. It indicated that acupuncture was likely a good treatment of occipital neuralgia.
We also see this in our clinic, with success rates higher than 80% for treating this condition. We see that success rate lower only when there are anatomical changes in the bones, for example, bone spurs, that are causing the pain.
Unlike using pharmaceuticals, injections, or surgery, the side effects of acupuncture are very minimal. Typically this just involves a little bit of soreness, and some rare bruising. Most patients find acupuncture to be surprisingly comfortable, and effective.
If you are tired of the symptoms and pain, consider using acupuncture for your occipital neuralgia by scheduling your free in-office consult.