Occipital neuralgia is a rare type of chronic headache. Occipital neuralgia is caused by damage or dysfunction of the occipital nerves- two pairs of nerves that originate near the second and third vertebrae of the neck. Symptoms of occipital neuralgia include throbbing pain that beings at the base of the skull and runs to the top of the neck. Occipital neuralgia usually comes and goes. Flare-ups cause tenderness and sharp pain lasting a few seconds to minutes and are triggered by things like brushing the hair, lying on a pillow or just touching the affected area of the head. While the exact cause of occipital neuralgia isn’t known, many medical professionals believe trauma, tumors, or inflammation that irritate the occipital nerves play a role.
Complex regional pain syndrome ranges from acute (Stage 1) to dystrophic (Stage 2) to atrophic (Stage 3.)
- Stage 1 lasts 3 months or less; symptoms include burning pain and heightened sensitivity to touch that is longer-lasting and more constant that one would expect after an injury. Additionally, hair and nail growth may be faster than usual in the affected area.
- Stage 2 lasts from 3-12 months and is characterized by swelling, cooler skin temperature, brittle fingernails, and widespread pain and sensitivity to touch.
- Stage 3 occurs a year after an injury. Skin becomes pale, dry, tight, and shiny. Range of motion is severely impacted due to increased stiffness, while pain may decrease.