How to treat occipital neuralgia at home
At some point, you may have experienced a painful-piercing, shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of your head, or behind the ears. This can sometimes be a condition called 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.
You have several remedies that you can consider to treat this condition significantly at home. This brief will share the most effective, reliable, and proven home remedies for occipital neuralgia.
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
Suppose you have this condition while at home, you can try a solo massage on your neck and jaw muscles very gently and carefully with your bare hands. This will help calm tight muscles and release tension.
If a simple massage by your own hands doesn’t cut the pain, you can ask your partner (if available, of course) for a simple neck massage.
Besides, you can lie on your back on a rolled towel put under your head and neck to put 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 the pain. Meditation exercises incorporate both mind and body approaches to healing, relaxation, and fully understanding your pain.
By meditating, you seem to 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.
If you do the stretch correctly, your pain can be reduced or even relieved. However, if this exercise increases pain, stop immediately.
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.
Proper diet routine
Give greater attention to your diet. Particularly incorporate B vitamins in 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.
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 can significantly affect the quality of your life if you are ailing from this condition. Therefore, if these self-care home remedies do not ease your occipital neuralgia pain, visit a health care provider for more care.
Stay safe, be groovy.