If you live with chronic headache pain, you are not alone. Recently, the Center for Disease Control reported that 25.5% of men and women, aged 18-44 experience severe headaches. At CPI’s Bedford pain and wellness center (in conjunction with our Benbrook location), we frequently treat patients for chronic migraines, tension headaches and more. Two of our top treatments for headache pain are occipital and trigeminal nerve blocks – read on to learn the basics of these highly successful treatments.
What are occipital and trigeminal nerve blocks?
Occipital nerve blocks and trigeminal nerve blocks are both types of nerve blocks that can help to alleviate chronic headaches. Nerve blocks involve injecting a local anesthetic and sometimes a steroid into a nerve to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The occipital nerve runs from the spinal cord at the base of the neck up to the scalp. An occipital nerve block involves injecting medication into the occipital nerves at the back of the head, near the base of the skull. This can be an effective treatment for certain types of headaches, including occipital neuralgia, tension headaches, and migraine headaches.
The trigeminal nerve is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for sensation in the face. A trigeminal nerve block involves injecting medication into the trigeminal nerve, which can help to alleviate pain caused by conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia and cluster headaches.
How do occipital and trigeminal nerve blocks work?
The medication used in nerve blocks typically includes a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, which numbs the nerve and reduces pain. Some nerve blocks also include a steroid, which can help to reduce inflammation in the area.
Nerve blocks work by interrupting pain signals that are sent from the affected nerve to the brain. By blocking these signals, nerve blocks can help to reduce or eliminate pain for a period of time.
What to expect during an occipital or trigeminal nerve block procedure
If you are considering an occipital or trigeminal nerve block, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of the procedure. They can also provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure, including whether you need to stop taking any medications beforehand.
Here’s what you can expect the nerve block procedure to look like:
- You will be asked to lie down on a table or sit in a chair
- The healthcare provider will clean the area
- He or she will inject the medication into the nerve using a thin needle.
- You may feel a brief sting or pinch when the needle is inserted, but the procedure is generally well-tolerated.
- After the injection, you may experience some numbness or tingling in the affected area, which is normal.
You should avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day and follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Overall, it’s a very straightforward, simple and low-risk procedure that offers relief to many of our chronic pain patients. If you or a loved one is living with chronic headache pain, our Bedford TX pain clinic specialists (as well as our Benbrook location) encourage you to reach out if you are curious about how it may help you.
Occipital and trigeminal nerve blocks can be effective treatments for chronic headaches, but they may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are considering a nerve block, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about whether it’s the right option for you. The chronic pain management specialists at Comprehensive Pain Institute are here to help answer any questions you may have about nerve blocks or other pain management options. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to learn more or schedule an appointment. Remember, there is hope for managing your chronic headaches and living a fulfilling life.