Third Occipital Nerve Block

  • Purpose – To relieve chronic headaches and upper neck pain that typically originates at the back of the head and extends over the top of the head on one side, due to a whiplash or repetitive injury, reducing inflammation and pain.
  • Overview – The injection delivers a dose of anesthetic and anti-inflammatory solution around the third occipital nerve.
  • Before the procedure – The anti-inflammatory solution may increase blood sugar.  If you have a history of issues with elevated blood sugars then you should discuss this with your primary care doctor, or endocrinologist.  You should have a driver to bring you to and from the procedure.  This procedure is done with fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance most of the time.
  • Details – The patient is placed on their side. The injection site is numbed. Following the numbing solution, radiopaque dye is used as a contrast solution under x-ray guidance to confirm the correct needle position. Once the accurate location is determined, the anesthetic and anti-inflammatory is injected.
  • After the procedure – It is best to continue with normal activity in order to achieve accuracy of the test and confirm the location of the nerve irritation or entrapment. In a couple of days, follow up with a pain management nurse to discuss the outcome of the block. The results will determine further diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. Radiofrequency may be considered.
  • Potential complications – Allergic reaction to medication, nerve damage, or bruising of the injection site.