Migraines are debilitating headaches that strike without warning and can ruin your life. They often occur with no buildup. Not every headache is a migraine, though. There are very specific signs that what you are experiencing is a migraine.
They occur in various combinations and include:
- Moderate to severe pain (often described as pounding, throbbing pain) that can affect the whole head, or can shift from one side of the head to the other
- Sensitivity to light, noise or odors
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Sensations of being very warm or cold
- Fever (rare)
- Bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)
It is estimated that up to 13 % (likely even higher) of all chronic headaches are related to occipital nerve neuralgia. Neuralgia is a general term for pain or irritation along the course of a nerve. We are addressing the irritation caused by nerve compression in this situation.
Although the Greater occipital nerve is the most common nerve involved, other nerves can be involved as well. The lesser occipital nerve and dorsal (or least) occipital nerve which are located in the back of the head/scalp. Headaches may originate from the forehead or frontal region as well. The nerves involved in this area include the supra-orbital and zygomatico-temporal nerves.
When no other underlying diseases or conditions are found, you may be a candidate for a nerve decompression surgery that can reduce or end your migraine headaches. This is an outpatient surgery with short recovery times. Results are often immediately evident but may take several weeks. Neuropax surgeons can assess if nerve decompression surgery would help to alleviate or significantly reduce your debilitating symptoms.