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Occipital Nerve Blocks

Occipital Nerve Blocks

The occipital nerves consist of the greater and lesser occipital nerves that exit out of the spinal cord near the second occipital vertebrae. These nerves provide sensation to the back of the head, also known as the occipital region, and up to the top of the head, or the vertex. When arthritis occurs to the second vertebrae or there is trauma to the back of the head, the nerves can become irritated and inflamed causing headaches to the back and top of the head. An occipital nerve block consists of an injection with a mixture of corticosteroid and local anesthetic to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. The patient is brought to the procedure room and sedated, typically with a combination of a pain reliever and relaxant. The area to be injected is numbed with local anesthetic. X-ray is used to guide needle placement in order to ensure proper delivery of the medication. Contrast dye is used to ensure needle placement on X-ray and a mixture of steroid and local anesthetic is injected near the nerve root. Once the procedure is completed, the patient is brought into the recovery room for 30 minutes, provided with food and drink, and given post-treatment instructions.