Update on Occipital Nerve Root Block

Hi All,

I thought it was about time I updated my post from two months ago. I had been having continuous headaches and migraines and am on beta blockers for the migraines and had an occipital nerve root block on the 10th December 2015. I'm happy to say that I now have headache/migraine free days which are wonderful. I still have to be careful lifting and moving things and have had a couple of migraines and a few headaches since but nothing like the 24/7 head pain of pre treatment days.

I am still learning how to manage this improvement as I have found that if I do too much in one stint, with my arms, then I will trigger a headache which will develop into a migraine if I don't hit it with pain meds early. I understand the value of pacing though this experience rather more than I have previously.

I have been told that the effects of the nerve block can last up to 12 weeks and so far so good with me. It is going to be possible to repeat the block if or as and when it wears off. It has changed my life so much that I am contemplating part-time work....I believe there is a chance of me working again. I will be careful not to jump in and regret my decision later but I have been given so much hope. Last November I did not think I would ever be able to work in any capacity ever again as I was being blinded by the headaches and the Fibromyalgia was reacting accordingly, which limited me so much. I love working and am sure that there is something that I will be able to do that is not too physical and won't include any lifting or carting around of heavy things.

Life is looking up,

Gin :-)

8 Replies

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  • The nerve blocks are a blessing, but once it wears off. It varies person to person. Hopefully yours lasts long term.

  • Thanks Sari, I have been told that I can have them repeated as the Occipital nerve roots are at the back of the head go the needle is inserted into my scalp following the most tender points towards the left and right of my c-spine. The consultant I saw said that it's low risk so he is happy to give me as many as needed. I'm taking care and so far so good :-)

  • I have mine injected either side of the neck. Below the ears. Yeah my consultant is much happy to have me do these than take pain killers. the tell all signs it wearing off for me are stiff neck, pain behind the eyes, pain at back of skull, nausea and changes in eye sight.

  • Hi Sari, that's very interesting to hear. I knew that the location of the nerve is important prior to injection as it varies from person to person and there are no anatomical landmarks to go by. We have very clever consultants and are fortunate that we are in the 80% of people that the nerve blocks work for. As this is my first nerve block I will make a note of any return of pain that refuses to be calmed. I used to have a continual pain at the back of my skull, what I used to call my 'usual headache'. I would also get pain behind my eyes, an aching neck and also the changes in vision clarity. I am so pleased that it has worked for you and hope it continues for a long time to come.

    Kindest regards, Gin :-)

  • Thanks gin, if this doesn't work for me and worst comes to worst they will consider tens for pain management. I wish you luck, I just seen my specialist again after pain returned. Was reassured that dizziness, light headed Ness, Con tinted headaches and eye pain were related to healing purposes.

    Good luck.

  • It's good that you have faith in your specialist, I do hope your healing doesn't take too long.

    Good luck to you too x

  • I've been having the occipital nerve block every 3 months for 4+ years, initially at the National Migraine Centre [who diagnosed hemicrania continua after 4 years of incorrect diagnosis & many unsuccessful drug treatments]. It works when the right combination of drugs are injected [tho the neurosurgeon who performs the injection took it upon himself to inject me with different quantities, without advising me of this for quite some time - the positive effects did not last as long]. The drugs are 80mg methylprednisolone acetate B.P & 20mg lidocaine hydrochloride Ph. Eur. Have been advised to take calcium supplements & anti osteoarthritis medication. Anyone receiving these injections should be asking about protecting their long term bone health. My life is my own again now. Hope you continue to benefit from the injections & life is no longer so difficult & painful.

  • Thank you Jules, the key seems to be finding the person who listens properly and then makes the correct diagnosis. I don't remember the quantity or proportion of steroid to local anaesthetic, I think he did tell me. I know I got the full dose one side but there was sharp pain on the left so he decided to stop injecting. There wasn't much left in the syringe.

    I was thinking of asking him if there is a more permanent solution rather than having to repeat the process every 15 weeks (my next one is due next Wednesday). My headaches returned at the end of February but he said it was too soon to repeat the block and sent me out the appointment for the 25th. The relief I've had has made life more pleasant, the migraines are so debilitating when they hit as they flare the fibro beyond belief. If the nerve block works, as it does for me, then why can't they cut the nerve completely....just a thought.

    Your message is very interesting as I had wondered about bone health. My late grandmother was on prednisolone orally, she developed osteoporosis and three of her vertebrae fractured. She lived until she was 92 but by the end of her life she was so bent over that she could not raise her head. She had a great sense of humour and laughed loudly when I told her we all had to make sure our shoes were polished or she would be on the war path! I will go armed with questions on Wednesday and see what he says regarding bone health and a more permanent surgical solution.

    I am so pleased the block worked for you and that you have your life back, I understand totally how much that lifts a person's spirits. Long may it last.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your experiences, I appreciate the advice and support you have given.

    Kindest Regards,

    Gin :-)

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