Occipital neuralgia is a condition that causes a very distinct type of headache—a continuous aching, burning, and throbbing with occasional electric-shock-like or shooting pain. It happens in the upper, back part of the head and neck or behind the ears, usually on one side of the head.
The pain is due to irritation or injury to the occipital nerves, which are two pairs of nerves that originate in the base of the neck and run up through the scalp at the back of the head. While occipital neuralgia is relatively common, it can often be misdiagnosed as a migraine or other type of headache.
At the Neuroscience Center at CentraState, our physicians are experts in determining the cause of chronic headaches, including occipital neuralgia. Our neurosurgeons are also among New Jersey’s leaders in providing a highly effective surgical procedure for occipital neuralgia called rhizotomy, which lessens or eliminates pain for many patients.