When Your Head Hurts: Trigeminal And Occipital Neuralgia
Occipital and trigeminal neuralgia causes
As for trigeminal and occipital neuralgia specifically, there are very few risk factors. More women develop these types of neuralgia than men.
The risk of trigeminal neuralgia also increases for those over 50 years of age.
Compression of the nerve root is the recognized cause of trigeminal and occipital neuralgia most of the time. 80-90% of the time it is the abnormal loop of an intercranial artery, or less commonly, vein, that compresses the nerve root close to the location where it enters the brain stem.
As a result, the nerve acts in an erratic manner, causing pain signals to be sent sporadically at the trigger of light touch, chewing, or brushing the teeth.
Rarely, traumatic injuries of the nerve, such as a car accident, can lead to similar damage. In multiple sclerosis, loss of myelin in one or more of the trigeminal nerve nuclei can also cause trigeminal and occipital neuralgia.
Other more rare causes of compression are tumors, epidermoid cyst, or aneurysm. The compression then leads to damage of the protective covering of the nerve, called myelin.