Occipital neuralgia treatment at home: 3 easy methods

how to treat occipital neuralgia at home
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Occipital Neuralgia Treatment at Home

Hi there and welcome to backpainsleep. You’re likely in pain, so we’re going to dive straight in and explain our method to occipital neuralgia treatment at home. If you would like a quick overview of symptoms or think you may be suffering from occipital neuralgia, please take a quick look at our symptoms video.

We have spent decades living with this horrible condition and have learned from painful experience that sticking to the basics works for us. When we become complacent and don’t use the neck massager or perform our stretches, it inevitably leads to a tension headache, which is closely followed by an occipital neuralgia flareup. Complacency is a killer; consistency is key.

For us, occipital neuralgia treatment at home is straightforward, highly effective, and very affordable. After many years of spending hundreds, if not thousands on every gadget and pillow you can imagine for treating occipital neuralgia at home, it is these 3 simple items that continue to serve us well year after year. Following these simple steps every day has made a huge difference to our quality of life.

What we use: The 3 Essentials

A dedicated pillow, a neck massager and a hot/cold pack. That’s it.

NECK MASSAGERS AVAILABLE HERE: Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massagers

CHEAP ICE / HEAT PACKS:  Twin Ice / Heat Pack

What we do: In order

Here’s what we do (in order) for occipital neuralgia treatment at home.

  • We eat, then take pain relief (never on an empty stomach)
  • Apply an ice-pack for 10-15mins to reduce inflammation
  • Allow the iced area to warm naturally
  • Use our neck massager with heat function and perform gentle stretches
  • Remain mindful of posture throughout the day with gentle stretching
  • Before bed we use our neck massager again on heat function
  • Sleep on our Therapeutica Pillow.

Occipital Neuralgia Treatment at Home – OTT Pain Relief

We always try to alleviate and prevent pain naturally, but when we’re really suffering, we take over-the-counter pain relief and an anti-inflammatory. Many years ago, we defaulted to powerful, prescribed medication along with the misplaced assumption that we were “better” once it kicked in. Pain relief would be temporary, of course, because we were doing nothing to prevent occipital neuralgia.

Experience is priceless when it comes to managing pain. We always follow the guidelines and NEVER take anything on an empty stomach. Please seek your own medical advice regarding medication.

Neck Massager & Stretches

To say these two simple stretches are tried and tested is an understatement. They work for us and are easy to follow.

occipital neuralgia treatment at home
treat occipital neuralgia at home

What is occipital neuralgia?

Very often, occipital neuralgia can be confused with a headache since its symptoms overlap. However, if you have occipital neuralgia, you will feel a headache that can start suddenly, causing pain in the upper neck and very often at the back of your head and base of your skull.

Though rare, nearly everyone has been affected by occipital neuralgia (ON). The World Health Organization (WHO) cites occipital neuralgia as having a disease-specific incidence rate of 3.2 per 100000 people each year. Moreover, this condition affects more women than men.

Although occipital neuralgia is not usually linked with any severe health condition, it requires treatment if you experience significant pain.  We must stress how important it is to us at backpainsleep that we perform the above exercises at least once daily. We’ve learned the hard way that treating occipital neuralgia at home with a few half-hearted attempts won’t work. Sticking with it is key.

What causes occipital neuralgia?

You have two occipital nerves running on either side of your head responsible for transmitting sensations in the back and the top of your head to the brain. Whenever your occipital nerves become injured or are pinched, you experience pain (occipital neuralgia).

You may not always pinpoint why it happens. However, some things have been blamed for causing occipital nerve damage;

  • Tight-tense muscles in the neck on the back of the end
  • Back problems
  • Injuries in the neck area
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Repetitive neck strain (get off your phone!)
  • Physical stress

How do you recognize occipital neuralgia?

It is challenging to differentiate occipital neuralgia from other types of headaches. However, it differs from other headaches: cause, areas of pain, and the pain type.

Unlike tension headaches, occipital neuralgia episodes feel more like intermittent piercing, shooting, or shock-like pain lasting for a few seconds, several minutes or longer.

Occipital neuralgia pain can be triggered quickly with a simple touch, poor posture or by simply sleeping awkwardly on your neck. You will feel the pain spreading from where the neck meets the skull affecting the top of your neck.

At times, you will experience pain at the back of your head, behind the ears, side of your head, or the eye on the affected side of your head.

What are the occipital neuralgia home remedies?

If you are at home, there are a few things you can do to reduce pain. The first thing we always try for relief is a session with our most trusted occipital neuralgia massager. You easily adjust this massager to hit your pain points.

Perform occipital neuralgia neck massage

Investing in a cervical pillow and a neck massager is ideal, but what if you can’t? You can try a solo massage on your neck and jaw muscles with your hands, that should be done very softly and carefully. This will aid in the relaxation of tense muscles and the release of tension.

If a simple massage with your own hands doesn’t cut the pain, you can ask your partner (if available, of course) for a simple neck massage. 

Try lying on your back on a rolled towel put under your head and neck to put light pressure on the pain. The pressure on the towel provides a gentle massage.

Practising occipital neuralgia meditation exercises

Mindful meditation has been linked to a measurable decrease in the intensity of pain. Meditation exercises incorporate both mind and body approaches to healing, relaxation, and fully understanding your pain.

Meditation may change your perception of pain, making it less intense. A study by the University of Carolina found that if you practice three 20 minutes sessions of mindful meditation, you experience less pain. You can have regular occipital neuralgia meditation sessions in a day to ease your pain.

Practice occipital neuralgia yoga poses.

There are occipital neuralgia yoga exercises you can perform to help your pain while at home. It may be worth trying these yoga poses;

  • Sub-occipital neck stretch 
  • Neck rotation
  • Neck extension and flexion

Schedule regular yoga exercises to keep your muscles stretched to avoid these neck pains… prevention is always better.

Do occipital strengthening exercises.

You can do the chin tuck exercise to stretch your occipital muscles and strengthen the muscles that align your head over your shoulders. This occipital exercise has proven effective for preventing neck pain if performed several times a day.

Ensure you perform back and neck exercises that will help you to strengthen your back and neck muscles for better posture.  

To perform chin tuck occipital neuralgia exercise, you should;

  • Sit upright(Your head and spine aligned)
  • Put your finger-tips on the front of your chin with your mouth closed
  • Exhale gently pressing your chin backward, with your neck straight
  • Move your head gently under the pressure until you feel the pull of your occipitals at the base of your skull.

Your pain may be reduced or even relieved if you perform the stretch correctly. If this exercise causes pain, stop doing it right away.

Apply ice/heat exercises 
Put an ice pack under your neck as you lie down on your back. Applying an ice pack on your neck will relax your muscles, relieving pain. 

You will also find using heat more relieving. This dilates your blood vessels, making blood flow to your neck increase, reducing muscle tightness, reducing your pain. 

A proper diet routine
Give greater attention to your diet. In particular, incorporate B vitamins into your diet. B vitamins can help relieve occipital neuralgia by boosting your body’s ability to heal itself.

Having adequate fatty acid foods can significantly help in reducing inflammation around the nerves. Also, stay adequately hydrated. Relax your body to reduce tensions.

If you’re having difficulty sleeping because of back pain or neck pain, check out this article.

Conclusion

It is not easy to diagnose occipital neuralgia as it shares symptoms with headaches. If not identified correctly, you can mistake it for headaches and vice versa. 

Occipital neuralgia is not a life-threatening condition, but it can have a significant impact on your quality of life if you have it. If these self-care home remedies do not relieve your occipital neuralgia pain, please see a doctor for further treatment.

Sincerely,
BackPainSleep

references:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19783099/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941786/

Last prices update on 2022-11-29

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