What is an occipital nerve stimulation procedure?
Occipital nerve stimulation is a therapeutic procedure to implant an electrical device that diminishes the function of the occipital nerve. The device consists of electrodes connected with insulated leads to a pulse generator that delivers small electrical impulses to the occipital nerve. The electrical impulses produce a tingling sensation and block the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Occipital nerve stimulation is a minimally invasive procedure developed in the early 1990s, for management of certain intractable pain syndromes that do not respond to treatments with medication. The stimulation can be tailored to suit individual needs and is reversible.
What does the occipital nerve control?
The occipital nerves provide sensation to the entire back of the head and the ears.
The occipital nerves are a group of nerves that arise from the top of the spine and pass under the neck muscle, up the scalp. to the top of the head. Three sets of nerves with several branches emerge out of the spinal nerve, on each side of the back of the head:
- Greater occipital nerves: two great nerves that are on either side of the back of the head, covering most of the scalp right up to the top of the head.
- Lesser occipital nerves: two nerves on the side of the neck running behind each ear.
- Third occipital nerves: two short nerves located centrally just above the neck.
Why is occipital nerve stimulation performed?
Occipital nerve stimulation is performed to provide pain relief from chronic, intractable daily headaches that do not respond to treatment with medication. Headaches that occur 15 days or more in a month are considered chronic.
Occipital nerve stimulation is used treat
- Headaches that lack a clear underlying cause (chronic, intractable primary headache disorder)
- Headaches that result due to underlying causes (chronic, intractable secondary headache disorders) such as:
- Neuropathic pain (neuralgia) in the occipital area
Occipital nerve stimulation has been found to be beneficial in reducing pain for conditions that include
- Intractable occipital neuralgia
- Occipital headaches
- Intractable migraine
- Postherpetic neuralgia (persistent neuralgia after shingles)
- Cervicogenic headache (originating from the neck)
- Tension headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Posttraumatic headache
- Chronic daily headaches (transformed migraine)
- Chronic headache due to whiplash injury
- Newly developed persistent headache with no history (new daily persistent headache)
- Hemicrania continua (persistent one-sided headache)
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is Occipital Nerve Stimulation Procedure Related Articles
Migraine TriggersPainful headaches can ruin your productivity and quality of life. But what triggers headaches and migraines? Learn some surprising causes of headaches and migraines plus how to find relief.
Migraine HeadacheMigraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Migraines and Seizures (Symptoms, Auras, Medication)Migraines are a type of headache and seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Migraine headaches and seizures are two different neurological problems that have similar signs, symptoms, and auras, for example, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound, irritability, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms unique to migraine and migraine auras are water retention, problems sleeping, appetite changes, and talkativeness. Symptoms unique to seizure and seizures auras are depression, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that a seizure is approaching, and depression.
Many of the symptoms of migraine and seizures are the same, however, seizures do not cause migraines; however, people who have seizures are twice as likely to have migraines and vice-versa. People who have migraines are twice as likely to have seizures, and people with seizures are twice as likely to have migraines; however, one condition does not cause the other.
Migraine and Stroke (Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment)
Migraine headache is a type of headache in which the exact cause is not known; however, they may be inherited, and certain foods and environmental factors can trigger and may contribute them. A stroke (brain attack) happens when a blood vessel in the brain leaks, bursts, or becomes blocked, which can be caused by many other health problems.
Both migraines and strokes can can cause severe head pain (migraine pain usually is only on one side of the head). Migraine aura symptoms may mimic or feel like a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) because they have similar symptoms and signs like severe headache, numbness in the legs, feet, arms, hands, or face, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Other migraine aura symptoms include vision problems like flashing lights or blind spots in one eye. The main difference between migraine headache and stroke symptoms and signs is that a migraine headaches usually come on gradually while a stroke symptoms come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
A migraine may cause photophobia (sensitivity to light and sound). Migraine triggers include hormonal changes, alcohol, insomnia, caffeine, stress, anxiety, bright lights, loud noises, strong odors, aspartame, MSG, and changes in the weather. Symptoms of a stroke that do not occur with migraines include confusion, speech, vision, and balance problems.
You can have a migraine headache and a stroke at the same time, but migraines do not cause strokes. However, in certain individuals with migraines with auras there may be related to a higher risk of stroke.
Stroke is a medical emergency. If you have stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately.
Migraine HeadachesIs it a headache or a migraine? Learn what a migraine is, causes, symptoms, treatments, and at-home remedies.
Migraine HacksA migraine can be more than just a whopping headache. Try these self-care tips for relief before and after it hits.
Migraines SlideshowWhat does a migraine headache feel like compared to a tension headache? Learn to spot migraine symptoms early, how to identify your triggers, and get more information on migraine headache medications and treatments. Learn to tell migraine from other types of headaches.
Migraine vs. Headache: Differences and SimilaritiesHeadaches are the most common reason why a person goes to the doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. There are different types of headaches, for example, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is tension headache. Migraine is much less common. There are few similarities between migraine and other headaches, for example, the severity of the pain can be the same, mild, moderate, or severe; and they can occur on one side or both sides of the head. However, there are many differences between migraine and other types of headaches. Migraine headaches also have different names, for example, migraine with aura and menstrual migraine.
Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain.
Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure.
Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Non-Drug Migraine HelpLearn about 14 non-drug treatments for migraines. Acupuncture, biofeedback and massage therapy are among this list of non-drug migraine treatments that may help ease pain.