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Occipital neuralgia
ICD-10 G528,[1] R51[2]
ICD-9 723.8
OMIM [1]
DiseasesDB [2]
MedlinePlus [3]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Occipital neuralgia, also known as C2 neuralgia, is a medical condition characterized by chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the ears. These areas correspond to the locations of the lesser and greater occipital nerves.


Occipital neuralgia is caused by damage to these nerves. Ways in which they can be damaged include trauma (usually concussive), physical stress on the nerve, repetitious neck contraction, flexion or extension, and as a result of medical complications (such as osteochondroma, a benign tumour of the bone).


The only direct symptom of this condition is essentially a chronic headache. Commonly described as back of head and around or over the top of head, sometimes up to the eyebrow. Because chronic headaches are a common symptom for numerous conditions, occipital neuralgia is often misdiagnosed at first, most commonly as tension headache or a migraine leading to treatment failure or addiction.


Once diagnosed, occipital neuralgia can be treated in several ways. These include local nerve block, peripheral nerve stimulation, steroids, rhizotomy, phenol injections, antidepressants, and Occipital Cryoneurolysis.

Other less common forms of surgical neurolysis or microdecompression are also used to treat the condition when conservative measures fail.

Chiropractic is an alternative method to treating mechanical conditions such as Greater Occipital Neuralgia. The C2 nerve root exits the spine between C1 and C2. Irritation between these two vertebrae will cause this pain.


Occipital neuralgia is not a life-threatening or otherwise health-threatening condition.

Chiropractic is the best way to treat this condition.


  1. [ IHS - International Headache Society� IHS vs. ICD-10]. URL accessed on 2007-10-12.
  2. NCCH ID. URL accessed on 2007-10-12.

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