Registrato: 29/06/19 09:35
|Occipital headaches are easily confused with migraines and other tension type headaches. They are named for the occipital (pronounced ox-SIP-it-all) nerves at the top of the spine and the occipital bone at the base of the skull. Occipital headaches can cause intense throbbing pain in the back of the skull or head. People who have these headaches can also experience pain behind the eyes. Because symptoms of this headache can mimic a migraine , occipital headaches are often misdiagnosed.
Occipital headaches occur when the occipital nerves that are located at the top of the spine become irritated and inflamed. This type of headache is categorized as a type of cervicogenic headache because it originates in the neck (cervical part of the spine). When the occipital nerves in the back of the neck become damaged from injury or infection, or pinched off due to arthritis, a condition can develop known as occipital neuralgia. Although research is still being done, many doctors theorize that migraines are more vascular in origin with many biological triggers, whereas occipital headaches are related to nerve irritation.
Symptoms of occipital headaches include: scalp tenderness, pain behind the eyes, pain in the upper neck, pain at the base of the skull (usually worse on one side), light sensitivity, and neck stiffness. The pain is sometimes made worse by lying down, especially if an uncomfortable pillow puts pressure on the back of the skull.
There are various causes of occipital headaches such as: poor posture, sleeping poorly and waking up with a “kink” in the neck, whiplash injury following car accident, anterior head carriage (keeping the head angled too far forward), osteoarthritis of the upper neck, tumors located near the skull and spine, misalignment of the bones of the upper neck, and watching TV or performing a task with the head turned for a long period. People who suffer from diabetes, gout, and disorders which cause inflammation of the blood vessels are at increased risk for occipital headaches.
Occipital headaches are more common in women than men. This is perhaps due to hormonal fluctuations which may cause swelling and increase pressure on the occipital nerves. Women also are smaller anatomically which makes them more susceptible to injury and inflammation.
An occipital headache can sometimes trigger a migraine or tension headache. Because these headaches can have similar symptoms, they can be difficult to differentiate. This is a main reason why occipital headaches are misdiagnosed. Most migraine medications and treatments do little to help relieve occipital headaches.
Treatment for occipital headaches can be medically invasive. For example, some treatments involve surgically cutting, burning, or removing portions of the occipital nerve. Because occipital headaches are not life threatening, these types of treatments seem extreme.
Alternative treatments involve chiropractic treatment to remove pressure from the occipital nerves, massage therapy to relax tight muscles in the back of the neck, and acupuncture to relieve tension patterns. If you suspect yourself to be having occipital headaches, see an appropriate healthcare practitioner.
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