Pain In Head Behind Ears
Occipital Neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves occipital nerves The greater occipital nerve is a nerve of the head. It is a spinal nerve, specifically the medial branch of the dorsal primary ramus of cervical spinal nerve 2. It arises from between the first and second cervical vertebrae, ascends, and then passes through the semispinalis muscle.
Greater occipital nerve – Wikipedia
, the nerves that run through the scalp, are injured or inflamed. This causes headaches that feel like severe piercing, throbbing or shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of the head or behind the ears.
Practice stress management techniques – Stress can create tension or tightness in your neck muscles. Tight neck muscles compress your occipital nerves, leading to occipital neuralgia pain. By managing your stress, you can both ease and prevent the formation of tension in your muscles and encourage relaxation instead.
- Helpful stress management activities include journaling, deep breathing exercises, and meditation.
- Occipital neuralgia massages are another option for releasing unnecessary tension.
- Massage therapists often focus on trigger points throughout the body.
- Applying light pressure with the fingertips to the trigger point at the base of your skull may calm tight muscles.
You can perform massages on yourself at home as well. Place a rolled towel under your head and neck to gently work your neck muscles and facilitate relaxation.
How do you get rid of a headache behind your ear?
Common Causes – Occipital neuralgia: Inflamed or injured nerves that innervate your scalp cause occipital neuralgia. Pain from this source can be piercing, throbbing, or severe in your upper neck, back of your head, or behind the ears. The pain is relieved by anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Local nerve blocks and muscle relaxants can offer added benefits. In cases of severe neck pain, your physician can inject corticosteroids into the affected area of pain. Many of the common warning signs of occipital neuralgia are comparable to migraines and other headache disorders. Diagnosis begins with a visit to your primary care physician,
An occipital nerve block can confirm the diagnosis. Mastoiditis: The mastoid bone is behind your ear, and when inflamed or infected, pain develops. Antibiotics can treat this bacterial infection. Signs of mastoiditis include redness, swelling, ear drainage, headaches, fever, and loss of hearing. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is pain caused by a misaligned or injured joint or a joint affected by arthritis.
These may compromise the joint and movement. Pain relievers, oral splints, and physical therapy can help treat this disorder. Grinding and cracking sensations may occur when moving your mouth. Chewing can be difficult, and pain is a common symptom. Dental problems: Dental caries (cavities) can cause referred pain, leading to headaches.
Infections in your teeth and jaw can cause pain behind the ears.
Can occipital neuralgia be a tumor?
Occipital neuralgia, is a subgroup of neuralgia that is accompanied by sensory deficit or dysesthesia on the major, minor or third occipital nerve areas. It can be idiopathic as well as caused by structural lesions. Among such structural lesions are cervical disk compression, cervical disk disorders, tumors and trauma.
What are the early signs of occipital neuralgia?
Occipital Neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves, the nerves that run through the scalp, are injured or inflamed. This causes headaches that feel like severe piercing, throbbing or shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of the head or behind the ears.
Osteoarthritis of the upper cervical spine Trauma to the greater and/or lesser occipital nerves Compression of the greater and/or lesser occipital nerves or C2 and/or C3 nerve roots from degenerative cervical spine changes Cervical disc disease Tumors affecting the C2 and C3 nerve roots Gout Diabetes Blood vessel inflammation Infection
Symptoms of occipital neuralgia include continuous aching, burning and throbbing, with intermittent shocking or shooting pain that generally starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp on one or both sides of the head. Patients often have pain behind the eye of the affected side of the head.
Additionally, a movement as light as brushing hair may trigger pain. The pain is often described as migraine-like and some patients may also experience symptoms common to migraines and cluster headaches, Occipital neuralgia can be very difficult to diagnose because of its similarities with migraines and other headache disorders.
Therefore, it is important to seek medical care when you begin feeling unusual, sharp pain in the neck or scalp and the pain is not accompanied by nausea or light sensitivity. Begin by addressing the problem with your primary care physician. They may refer you to a specialist.
Diagnosis of occipital neuralgia is tricky, because there is not one concrete test that will reveal a positive or negative diagnosis. Typically, a physical examination and neurological exam will be done to look for abnormalities. If the physical and neurological exams are inconclusive, a doctor may order further imaging to rule out any other possible causes of the pain.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be ordered, which can show three-dimensional images of certain body structures and can reveal any impingement, A computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) will show the shape and size of body structures. Some doctors may use occipital nerve blocks to confirm their diagnosis.
Heat: patients often feel relief when heating pads or devices are placed in the location of the pain. Such heating pads can be bought over-the-counter or online. Physical therapy or massage therapy. Oral Medication:
Anti-inflammatory medications ; Muscle relaxants ; and Anticonvulsant medications.
Percutaneous nerve blocks: these injections can be used both to diagnose and treat occipital neuralgia. Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections : Botox injections can be used to decrease inflammation of the nerve
Occipital Nerve Stimulation : This surgical treatment involves the placement of electrodes under the skin near the occipital nerves. The procedure works the same way as spinal cord stimulation and uses the same device. The procedure is minimally invasive and surrounding nerves and structures are not damaged by the stimulation. It is an off-label indication for an FDA-approved device.
Spinal Cord Stimulation : this surgical treatment involves the placement of stimulating electrodes between the spinal cord and the vertebrae. The device produces electrical impulses to block pain messages from the spinal cord to the brain. C2,3 Ganglionectomy- This treatment involves the disruption of the second and third cervical sensory dorsal root ganglion, Acar et al (2008) studied the short-term and long-term effects of this procedure. The study found that 95% of patients had immediate relief with 60% maintaining relief past one year.
Patients are encouraged to regularly follow up with their primary care providers and specialists to maintain their treatment. Surgeons like patients to return to the clinic every few months in the year following the surgery. In these visits, they may adjust the stimulation settings and assess the patient’s recovery from surgery.
Evaluation of Occipital Nerve Stimulation in Intractable Occipital Neuralgias Ultrasound Guided Platelet Rich Plasma Injections for Post Traumatic Greater Occipital Neuraliga A Comparison of Dexamethasone and Triamcinolone for Ultrasound-guided Occipital C2 Nerve Blocks A Prospective Controlled Treatment Trial for Post-Traumatic Headaches
Sweet, J.A., Mitchell, L.S., Narouze, S., Sharan, A.D., Falowski, S.M., Schwalb, J.M., Pilitsis, J.G. (2015). Occipital Nerve Stimulation for the Treatment of Patients With Medically Refractory Occipital Neuralgia. Neurosurgery, 77 (3), 332–341. doi: 10.1227/neu.0000000000000872J This systematic review compiles treatment recommendations for the use of occipital nerve stimulation to treat occipital neuralgia. The review found various articles supporting these recommendaitons. Janjua, M.B., Reddy, S., Ahmadieh, T.Y.E., Ban, V.S., Ozturk, A.K., Hwang, S.W., Arlet, V. (2020). Occipital neuralgia: A neurosurgical perspective. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 71, 263–270. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2019.08.102 This paper investigates the different causes of occipital neuralgia and surgical interventions that have aided in relieving pain. The paper also provides case examples for each cause and corresponding treatment. The paper found that the C2 nerve is the most common site for compression causing the pain. Treatments such as C2 neurectomy and/or ganglionectomy offer the most pain relief for patients. Texakalidis, P., Tora, M.S., Nagarajan, P., Jr, O.P.K., & Boulis, N. (2019). High cervical spinal cord stimulation for occipital neuralgia: a case series and literature review. Journal of Pain Research, Volume 12, 2547–2553. doi: 10.2147/jpr.s214314P This study uses a literature review to support the author’s personal experiences treating occipital neuralgia with spinal cord sitmulation to show the efficacy of the treatment for this condition. The study found that high cervical spinal cord stimulation results in 40-50% success in patients with occipital neuralgia and thus, spinal cord stimulation may be considered as a treatment option.
Amy’s Occipital Neuralgia Story Michael’s Story
Patient Pages are authored by neurosurgical professionals, with the goal of providing useful information to the public. Julie G Pilitsis, MD, PhD, FAANS Chair, Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Professor, Neurosurgery and Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Albany Medical College Dr.
- Pilitsis specializes in neuromodulation with research interests in treatments for movement disorders and chronic pain.
- Olga Khazen, BS Research Coordinator Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Albany Medical College The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets.
This information provided is an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.
What foods should I avoid with occipital neuralgia?
Foods to Avoid – It’s not just about what you eat, but about what you don’t eat as well. Certain foods pose a risk of increasing inflammation and triggering nerve pain. Some of them are straightforward in the way they increase inflammation, including excessive omega-3 fatty acids, trans fats and sodium nitrates, while others directly increase the risk of exacerbating or causing neuropathy, including alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and foods with a high glycemic index (i.e.
Limit corn, seed oils and trans fats, These include sunflower seed oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, margarine, other types of vegetable shortening, and most other vegetable and cooking oils. Extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil are exceptions. Cut fried foods by association. Don’t be too afraid of saturated fats – they don’t clog arteries, It’s better to cook with lard than lots of commercial vegetable oil or shortening, and butter is healthier than margarine. But limit your intake, nonetheless. Fat has more calories per gram than other nutrients, and the excess calories can lead to weight gain that exacerbates and increases inflammation, and by association, pain. Avoid most processed meats. Nitrites are the primary concern here, but even nitrite-free cured meats will have a remarkably high sodium content, so treat it as a delicacy (or stay away altogether). Even “healthier” sweeteners such as agave or honey, or zero calorie sweeteners like aspartame may increase nerve pain. Animal studies have shown that sweeteners may lead to nerve degeneration, and some people are sensitive to them. High-glycemic foods, on the other hand, can increase neuropathy in patients with diabetes.
Do brain tumors cause pain in back of head?
When you have a headache that seems a little more painful than usual and feels different than your typical tension headache or migraine, you may wonder if it’s a sign of something serious. You may even wonder if you have a brain tumor. But keep in mind that most headaches aren’t due to brain tumors.
In fact, fewer than 90,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor annually. The majority of brain tumors actually start somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. These are known as metastatic brain tumors. A tumor that forms in the brain is called a primary brain tumor. So, most headaches aren’t cause for concern.
However, if a brain tumor is present, a headache is the most common symptom, Understanding the differences between a standard headache and what could be a brain tumor headache can provide a little peace of mind. However, it’s wise to talk to your doctor whenever you have a new concern, like headaches and accompanying symptoms.
- In many cases, it’s the presence of other symptoms that can help you and your doctor determine the seriousness of your situation.
- In its early stages, a brain tumor may have no noticeable symptoms.
- It’s only when it grows large enough to put pressure on the brain or nerves in the brain that it can start to cause headaches.
The nature of a brain tumor headache is different from a tension or migraine headache in some noticeable ways. For example, waking up frequently with a headache can be a sign of a brain tumor. Keep in mind, however, that other conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea or a hangover, can also cause morning headaches,
But if you start getting frequent headaches, different kinds of headaches, or if the headaches change in severity, take note. These may indicate a brain tumor is present. Likewise, if you’re not a person who usually gets headaches, but you begin experiencing frequent, painful headaches, see a doctor soon.
Other headache symptoms associated with brain tumors may include:
headaches that wake you up at nightheadache pain that changes as you change positionsheadache pain that doesn’t respond to standard pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil)headaches that last for days or weeks at a time
Because the pain can be quite intense, brain tumor headaches are sometimes confused with migraines. However, a migraine attack can also trigger nausea and extreme sensitivity to light. Brain tumor headaches are usually accompanied by other signs. If a headache is your only symptom, it’s less likely to be caused by a brain tumor than if you’re experiencing other serious health issues.
unexplained weight lossdouble vision, blurred vision, or a loss of visionincreased pressure felt in the back of the headdizziness and a loss of balanceseizuressudden inability to speakhearing lossweakness or numbness that gradually worsens on one side of the bodyuncharacteristic moodiness and anger
Some of these symptoms may indicate a stroke, which isn’t caused by a brain tumor. Rather, a stroke is the interruption of blood flow to or within a blood vessel in the brain. But whether the symptoms are those of a stroke or brain tumor, consult your doctor if your condition worsens from a mild headache into something else.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer elsewhere in your body and you start to experience strong headaches, tell your doctor. The cancer may have spread to your brain. Be ready to describe all your symptoms in detail. The nature of your headaches will help your physician make a better treatment plan. If you have no cancer history, see your doctor or a neurologist if a headache lasts for several days or weeks with little or no relief.
A headache that continues to worsen with no response to traditional pain treatment should also be evaluated. Weight loss, muscle numbness, and sensory changes (vision or hearing loss) that accompany a headache should be checked promptly, too. The right treatment for a brain tumor depends on its size and location, as well as its type.
There are more than 120 kinds of brain and nervous system tumors, They differ in whether their cells are cancerous or benign (noncancerous), where the cells originated from, how aggressive the tumor cells are, and many other criteria. Your age and general health will also determine your treatment if you receive a brain cancer diagnosis.
Treatments for brain tumors include:
Surgery to remove the tumor. New advances in technology and surgical techniques allow surgeons to reach the brain through tiny incisions and specialized instruments that don’t require a major incision that can take a long time to heal. Radiation treatment, which uses external beams of X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink the tumor. Radiation can also be administered by implanting radioactive material directly in the brain for a short time. Chemotherapy, which can be especially challenging for brain tumors. That’s because there’s a blood-brain barrier that protects brain tissue from the bloodstream. Researchers are working on chemotherapy medications that can cross the blood-brain barrier safely and effectively to destroy the tumor.
If no aggressive cancer treatment is done, your doctor may try to manage your brain tumor headache symptoms with steroids to reduce inflammation and swelling, thereby easing pressure on the nerves. If seizures are a problem, your doctor may prescribe anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drugs.
Though some symptoms may come and go, a brain tumor won’t disappear on its own. The sooner a tumor is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better the chances of a positive outcome. And even if your doctor finds that you don’t have a brain tumor, the peace of mind will be quite comforting. A benign tumor can also cause painful headaches and may require surgery to remove it, but keep in mind that not all brain tumors are cancerous.
The most important thing to remember is to pay attention to your symptoms and when they start to expand beyond the usual tension headache discomfort.