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What is Occipital Neuralgia?
Occipital neuralgia is a type of headache disorder that is characterized by severe pain in the back of the head, neck, shoulder blades, and upper back. The pain is often so intense that it may be difficult to move the head.
Studies show that there are an estimated 1 to 2 million people in the U.S. who suffer from this condition. The pain is caused by inflammation of the occipital nerves, a group of nerves that emerge from the spinal nerve cluster and run from the neck into the scalp.
Signs and Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia
The symptoms of occipital neuralgia are usually experienced in the area where the nerves emerge from the spinal cord. Episodes of occipital neuralgia are usually described as persistent pain and may be accompanied by tingling or burning sensations on the face and scalp.
The pain is typically sharp, but it may also be aching, throbbing, or shooting. Symptoms may be worse at night, and they can sometimes be triggered by a particular activity, such as turning in bed, coughing, or looking down.
How the Upper Cervical Spine Effects Occipital Neuralgia
The upper cervical spine is the region of the spine that extends from the base of the skull to the atlas (the uppermost cervical vertebra). When the upper cervical spine is out of alignment, the subluxation can put pressure on the occipital nerves, which can be a contributing factor to the development of occipital neuralgia. In particular, upper cervical misalignments can shift the position and stability of the atlas vertebra, leading to acute inflammation and muscle strain around the occipital nerves.
How Our Occipital Neuralgia Treatment Works
In order to diagnose and treat occipital neuralgia effectively, our expert chiropractors, Dr. Hoefer will first need to identify the exact cause of the problem. To do so, Dr. Hoefer will use digital X-rays and cone-beam computed tomography to scan the upper cervical spine and pinpoint the exact angle and location of any vertebral misalignments.
If a misalignment is detected, Dr. Hoefer will target the affected area by performing a series of painless, non-invasive chiropractic adjustments. The goal of this treatment is to restore the natural alignment of the upper cervical spine, relieving pressure on the occipital nerves and alleviating any inflammation and muscle strain around the atlas vertebra.
If you’re looking for a natural treatment for occipital neuralgia, we can help! Dr. Hoefer services patients in Orange County, including Anaheim, Rancho Santa Margarita, Dana Point, San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, and Santa Ana.