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Occipital headache: Causes and treatment     

Occipital headache is also known as occipital neuralgia and is accompanied by chronic pain at the occiput located on the backside of the head and is further branched out to the vertex, temporal area of the head and neck. This type of headache begins at the base of the skull and has a unilateral pattern that exerts stress on the skeletal system causing the onset of a headache.

Causes of Occipital headache:

Occipital headache can be caused by various factors such as injury to the head, underlying muscle tension and anatomic variations. It is usually quite difficult to differentiate between occipital headache and other type of headaches as the pain spreads out evenly and it becomes hard to locate the exact point of origin of the headache.

Types of Occipital headaches:

There are various types of occipital headaches that can be triggered due to several factors.

Migraine: In case a patient is susceptible to migraine attacks, occipital neuralgia can contribute to the development of a full blast migraine headache.

Tension Headache: If the pain is monotonous and profound but varies in intensity from mild to severe it can also be termed as tension type headache.

Cervicogenic headache: If the point of origin of the headache is located at the back of the head and neck it is a cervicogenic headache.

Vascular headache: If the pain is accompanied by dizziness, it could indicate a vascular problem.

Occipital headaches can also indicate an underlying ailment. Therefore, it is essential for you to visit a doctor for a complete check-up to find out the real cause of the headache.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Your doctor might prescribe various tests such as Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain or a CT scan to determine the actual cause of the headache and then prescribe the treatment accordingly.

Treatment procedures for occipital headache depend upon the underlying cause of the headache. Medication such as oral steroids and occipital nerve blocks can be administered for a short period. Antispasmodic drugs such as Elavil and flexeril are given in cervicogenic cases. Antidepressants and antispasmodic drugs can also help relieve the pain.

It is essential for patients to make some changes in their lifestyle patterns such as start exercising regularly, take a balanced diet, quit smoking and reduce the consumption of alcohol in order to combat occipital headache.


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