Surprise, It’s Not a Migraine

The pain we typically think of as a migraine or cluster headache might actually be Occipital Nerve Syndrome – and we can help.

We all know the feeling: pounding head, wearing our sunglasses indoors until we can shuffle our way into our bed, blackout curtains drawn.

In our clinic, migraine headache complaints are pretty common from patients seeking treatment.

But, surprisingly, some patients who present these symptoms aren’t suffering from a classic migraine at all.

The pain and symptoms associated with migraines are undeniable: visual disturbances, such as an aura or scotoma (wavy lines, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope); vertigo; light sensitivity; sound sensitivity; vomiting; severe headache one sided but may spread to both sides.

With symptoms like that, it’s easy to see how a patient would think they have a migraine. However, it may actually be something different altogether: Occipital Nerve Syndrome.

This one-sided headache travels from the bottom of the skull to the areas above the ear and into the eye. Unlike tension headaches – which are often described as bandlike, tightness, or viselike – headaches stemming from Occipital Nerve Syndrome are steady and non-pulse-like.

What Causes Occipital Nerve Syndrome?

It seems the smallest things can have the largest impact, and that is no different with Occipital Nerve Syndrome. Common, everyday movements can trigger an outburst of pain from occipital neuralgia,  including:

  • Turning the head side to side,
  • Putting the head down on a pillow, and
  • Brushing or washing the hair

More traumatic injuries to the neck area can also lead to Occipital Nerve Syndrome, such as whiplash from a car accident.

Even the presence of tight muscles in the neck and back of the head can pinch or trap occipital nerves, causing occipital neuralgia.

The pain can be quite intense, prompting some individuals with the condition to believe they’re experiencing a migraine or cluster headache. It’s an understanding conclusion to arrive at; however, these are different kinds of conditions that require different types of treatment.

There Is Hope… And Help

While the bad news is that you’re suffering from a lot of pain, there is good news in sight: This type of headache responds very well to chiropractic care.

To confirm diagnosis so that you receive the best care, a thorough examination should be performed to ascertain what type of headache you’re experiencing. Then treatment parameters for that type should be assessed.

Although chiropractic remedies for occipital neuralgia were once considered alternative treatments, the advantage of not having to deal with the risks associated with surgery and medications has made it more mainstream. Chiropractic care seeks to correct the heart of the matter, aiming to alleviate the root cause of the pain – not to just manage it.

These non-invasive treatments can include adjustments, heat, massage, and traction. This brings the body back into proper alignment, loosening the neck muscles and taking the pressure off the nerves.

We have seen greater success with patients remaining pain-free that choose chiropractic care over surgery or medications, so give us a call today!

Posted in Health & Wellness, Posture, Safety, Stress, Symptoms & Conditions, Techniques & Treatments

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