Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

My father was just diagnosed with greater occipital neuralgia. What is this and what causes it?

Answer:

The greater occipital nerve is located in the head and neck. Chronic pain from this nerve is called neuralgia. The cause is often unknown. Sometimes when the nerve passes through a muscle it gets stretched and becomes painful.

Researchers have shown some changes in anatomy such as bone spurs or large veins can cause this problem. Some cases of severe arthritis affecting the upper part of the neck have been reported as a cause. Without a known cause it can be difficult to treat. Even with treatment the painful symptoms can come back.

Olivier Gille, MD, et al. Surgical Treatment of Greater Occipital Neuralgia by Neurolysis of the Greater Occipital Nerve and Sectioning of the Inferior Oblique Muscle. In Spine. April 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 7. Pp. 828-832.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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