When Your Head Hurts: Trigeminal And Occipital Neuralgia

Surgery for occipital and trigeminal neuralgia 

More extreme treatments, such as surgical treatments, carry higher risks, so it’s important to have a solid diagnosis before pursuing a surgical procedure. If, for example, a nerve block injection applied to the occipital nerve provides pain relief, then a surgical procedure focusing on the occipital nerve has a good chance of providing pain relief.

If other options haven’t worked, there are several options for surgical procedures. These surgeries include:

  • Microvascular decompression: An invasive procedure involving removal or separation of vasculature, which is often the superior cerebellar artery, away from the nerve.
  • Balloon compression: A balloon catheter is inflated and used to compress the ganglion.
  • Gamma knife radiosurgery: A noninvasive treatment that creates lesions by using focused gamma radiation. The radiation is targeted at the proximal nerve root with the aid of stereotactic frame and MRI.
  • Linear accelerator radiosurgery: A noninvasive approach similar to gamma knife, but uses a different form of radiation, linear acceleration.
  • Peripheral neurectomy: An incision, radiofrequency lesioning, alcohol injection, or cryotherapy is used on a peripheral branch of the nerve.
  • Chemical rhizotomy: An injection of glycerol into the trigeminal cistern. Tingling or burning is felt in the face, and pain relief is usually immediate, but may take up to a week.

Surgeries to treat trigeminal or occipital neuralgia are the most high-risk treatment options, but they can potentially give longer-lasting relief if nothing else has worked.

Living with trigeminal and occipital neuralgia

If you’re suffering from pain that may be occipital neuralgia or trigeminal neuralgia, a pain doctor can help you get a diagnosis and find treatment options that work for you. If conservative or at-home treatments haven’t helped manage your pain, click the button below to talk to a pain doctor in your area.

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