If you’ve suffered a neck injury, you may have damaged or compressed your occipital nerve, which lies within the muscles of your neck. Such an injury can cause headaches as well as neck pain known as occipital neuralgia. Your Pain Management doctor may recommend occipital nerve injections to treat this problem.
Preparation for an Occipital Nerve Injection
An Occipital Nerve Injection usually takes only a few minutes. You have to lie flat on your stomach on an X-ray table.
Before the procedure, your doctor numbs your skin where he will make the injection. He uses lidocaine, which is similar to the novocaine that dentists use. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic, numbing only the area where it’s applied. Sedatives are rarely necessary, but if you experience any anxiety about the procedure, your doctor can give you a sedative.
Your doctor uses a fluoroscope, which provides live X-ray images, to guide the needle accurately. Once he has the needle where it needs to be, he injects the steroid medication.
Following the injection, you’ll be monitored for 15 to 20 minutes before being discharged to go home. If you had a sedative, you’ll have to be monitored for a longer period and you may have to arrange for a ride home.
On the day of your epidural steroid injection, you have to rest. The day after your injection, you usually can resume your normal activities — those that you’ve done the week prior to the injection.
For more information about nerve blocks and epidurals, refer to the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) Block Suite.
Find out more about SSI’s Pain Management procedures.
For information about the safety of the treatments at SSI, refer to the Spinal Injections Safety report.