Occipital Neuralgia Awareness Day

The first annual Occipital Neuralgia Awareness Day is today, October 25, 2017!

Occipital Neuralgia (ON) is a spinal nerve pain condition, not a cranial nerve pain condition. It is included here because it is a common condition among facial pain patients.

Occipital Nerve
Click to enlarge


Occipital Neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves are inflamed or injured. The occipital nerves run from the 2nd and 3rd cervical vertebrae up the posterior scalp (back of the head) to the vertex (top of the head.) The condition causes pain in the back of the head and/or the base of the skull. It is sometimes called cervicogenic headache.

It is sometimes confused with migraine headaches because the symptoms can be similar. Like the cranial neuralgias, it is most commonly felt on one side of the head or the other, but it is possible to have bilateral occipital neuralgia.


The pain of ON is often described as shooting, zapping, electric, or tingling pain very similar to that of Trigeminal Neuralgia, only with symptoms located on one side of the scalp rather than in the face. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain behind the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Neck pain
  • Scalp sensitivity


ON is the result of pressure on or trauma to the occipital nerve. This can occur due to injury, muscular entrapment, or inflammation. It is a potential complication of MVD surgery, because the area through which the surgeon accesses the cranial nerves is very close to the path of the lesser occipital nerves.

Other possible causes include, but are not limited to:

  • Trauma to the back of the head
  • Muscle tension
  • Arthritis
  • Tumors
  • Cervical disc disease
  • Infection

Raising awareness of this condition is an easy way to have a major impact. Occipital Neuralgia is not a common diagnosis, even within the facial pain community. You could share this post on social media today, and very easily reach someone who has Occipital Neuralgia and has never heard of it before.

You could change a life today, and all you have to do is post the link to this post on Facebook.

There’s nothing quite like a short YouTube video to help spread knowledge of a condition. Feel free to use this one to educate your friends and family. YouTube videos can be shared online, in emails, and in text messages.

Profiles of Courage

If you haven’t gotten your profile picture overlay yet, go ahead and do that now. It’s a great way to spread awareness to the hundreds of people who see your smiling face on social media every day!

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3 thoughts on “Occipital Neuralgia Awareness Day

  1. Thank you for this I have ON and it is so great someone has a place where people can get info on all these sorts of conditions. It’s also great to have a link to send people to who ask me what is ON or who say oh you have a headache again (someone said oh you have a head ache yesterday and I said I wish). Thanks

  2. I have this! People think I’m crazy when I to describe it. My primary care doctor. doesn’t understand why I’m still having symptoms since I was treated by a neurologist. I have pain every single day.

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