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Neuralgia occipital nerve

Headache is one of the most common pathological conditions of the person. Unlikely to find at least one lucky winner, who has not suffered from a headache at least once in your life. There are many types of headaches that differ in character, duration, location and cause of. One pain you can endure for a long time, and the second for even a few seconds can cause a person simply hellish. To the latter species of headache include a pain syndrome that arises in this disease, as neuralgia of the occipital nerve.

Anatomy of the occipital nerve

In order to understand what is neuralgia of the occipital nerve and how is it caused, you must understand about the anatomy of the occipital nerve fibers and their functions.

There are two nerve that Innervate the skin of the head:

  1. Large (this is the posterior branch 2 pairs of cervical spinal nerves).
  2. Small (originates from the cervical plexus, which is formed by 2, 3 and 4, a pair of cervical spinal nerve fibers).

These fibers provide the sensitivity of the skin of the occipital region. Great occipital nerve innervates the area of the occiput and mastoid. Small occipital nerve provides cutaneous sensitivity of the area in the upper third behind grodnokhimvolokno muscles of the neck.

Given that these nerve fibers are the division of the spinal nerve fibers emerge from the spinal canal between 2, 3 and 4 vertebrae of the neck, respectively, their pathology is the root cause of occipital neuralgia.

Any disease, which is accompanied by compression or irritation of the cervical spinal nerves, can trigger the development of neuralgic pain in the occipital region.

The causes of neuralgia of the occipital nerve

Occipital neuralgia can occur as an acute disease to a chronic pathology that depends on the cause of the disease. There may be 2 types of neuralgia depending on the causes:

  • idiopathic or primary;
  • secondary.

In the first case, after a detailed examination of the patient is unable to find objective reasons for the defeat of the occipital nerves, despite active symptoms of the disease.

The cause of secondary occipital neuralgia can be:

  • degenerative and dystrophic lesions of the tissues of the cervical spine (osteochondrosis, spondylosis, spondylosis deformans, protrusion or herniated disc), this may occur as the nerve irritation by osteophytes and compression of the herniation protrusion, spasserovannye neck muscles;
  • prolonged static surge of the neck, which lead topainful muscle spasms and secondary infringement of the roots, which form the occipital nerves (e.g., prolonged work at the computer with her head bowed);
  • injuries of the cervical spine that lead to post-traumatic deformation and compression of the nerve;
  • hypothermia, which may trigger an aseptic inflammation of the roots;
  • infectious diseases that can occur with damage to the nervous tissue, especially of viral pathology;
  • rheumatologic pathology of the cervical spine, such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic connective tissue disease, systemic vasculitis;
  • tumors in the cervical spine that can irritate or pinch the occipital nerves;
  • tuberculous lesions of the spine;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • chronic alcoholism;
  • chronic poisoning by various toxic substances.

This pathology, as neuralgia of the occipital nerve, in any case should not remain without medical attention. Despite the painful symptoms and reduced quality of life, this pain may serve as a danger signal of the body, because under the guise of an ordinary headache in the back of the head can hide malignant tumor of the spinal cord or other tissues of the spine.

The symptoms of neuralgia of the occipital nerve

Signs of damage to the occipital nerve so typical that the doctor can make this diagnosis, just leaving the patient's complaints. But to establish the fact neuralgia is one thing, but finding its cause is a task much more difficult, the solution of which no additional tests are necessary.

How to establish the diagnosis?

To diagnose neuralgia of the occipital nerve is not difficult. But to cure the disease without fixing the cause of damage to nerve fibers is impossible. Because the basis of the diagnosis is aimed at determining the cause of neuralgia.

In the mandatory list of additional studies included:

  • radiography of the cervical spine;
  • magnetic resonance and computed tomography of the neck;
  • additional consultation with a neurologist and an orthopedist.

If, after examination of objective causes of pain in the back of the head can not find, then the primary diagnosis of neuralgia of the occipital nerve.

Basic principles of treatment of neuralgia of the occipital nerve

Neuralgia treatment primarily involves the elimination, if possible, its immediate causes. To do this, use conservative medicamental and non-medicamental methods, as well as surgical treatment, with symptomatic purpose, and to eliminate the root causes.

Conservative therapy

Applicationmedication when occipital neuralgia has one goal – to eliminate the pain. To do this, use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that eliminate the inflammation and pain (diclofenac,

Effects and prevention of neuralgia of the occipital nerve

If time does not eliminate the pathological influence on the occipital nerve, neuralgia (inflammation) can go to the neuropathy, when there is a change in the structure of the nerve sheath, which results in constant circulation of nerve impulses. It becomes a cause of chronic pain. Even if you eliminate the root cause of neuralgia, at the stage of neuropathy to get rid of pain will not succeed. It will have to perform a complicated brain surgery on the occipital nerves.

Prevention neuralgia is the prevention of conditions that cause it. It is important to monitor the working posture of the neck, to make periodic charging to prevent static overload. You also need time to treat the respiratory virus infection, which may cause occipital neuropathy.

Video transmission about cervical plexitis – one of the causes of neuralgia of the occipital nerve:

Neuralgia occipital nerve is a serious pathology that requires attention. If you experience the first symptoms of the disease, you must seek the assistance of the neurologist to establish the true causes of neuralgia and preparation of competent treatment.