Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks

Greater Occipital Nerve Block Eases Chronic Headaches

Suppose you have a terrible headache that doesn’t go away with regular medicine. One reason for this could be a nerve in your head called the “greater occipital nerve.” This nerve is like a messenger sending pain signals to your brain, telling you your head hurts.

Sometimes, doctors can help by doing something called a “greater occipital nerve block.” Think of this as putting a stop sign before the pain messenger. Here’s how it works:

  1. Finding the Spot: The doctor first finds the greater occipital nerve, which is located at the back of your head, where your neck meets your skull.
  2. Cleaning the Area: They clean the skin on that spot to make sure it’s super clean and doesn’t get infected.
  3. Numbing the Skin: The doctor might use a tiny needle to give you a small shot that numbs the skin. This helps you not feel much when they give you the main injection.
  4. The Injection: The doctor uses a slightly bigger needle to inject a particular medicine around the greater occipital nerve. This medicine is usually a mix of something to numb the area (like when you go to the dentist) and sometimes a steroid, which helps reduce swelling and pain for longer.
  5. Waiting: After the injection, you might feel a little pinch or sting, but it’s usually quick. The numbing medicine works immediately, and the steroid helps over the next few days.
  6. Feeling Better: The goal is to stop the pain signals from the greater occipital nerve from reaching your brain. This can help make your headache go away or hurt a lot less.
  7. After the Injection, You might rest briefly at the doctor’s office to ensure everything is okay. Most people can go home soon after and return to their usual activities.
  8. Lasting Relief: The injection relief can last a few weeks to several months. Sometimes, people need to get this injection more than once to keep the pain away.

So, in simple terms, a greater occipital nerve block is like a particular shot that tells the nerve at the back of your head to stop sending pain messages to your brain, helping your headache feel better.