Occipital Nerve Block

An occipital nerve block is used to treat pain from headaches to the back of the head and some types of tension headaches. Anti-inflammatory medication is injected to decrease the inflammation and swelling of tissue surrounding the occipital nerve. Complications are rare, but can include a temporary increase in pain at the injection site, infection, bleeding and worsening of headache. Many patients experience pain relief for several weeks and some may even have long-lasting pain relief.

When you arrive, a nurse will obtain a description of your pain and how you are managing daily activities. Your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and weight will be recorded. Medications, allergies and a brief health history will be reviewed. It is important to let the nurse know if you have allergies to medications and latex or if you have diabetes.

After discussing treatment with your physician and signing procedural consent, you will be helped onto the stretcher into a sitting position. Your skin and hair will be cleansed with antiseptic and the physician will inject the medication. The entire procedure will take less than a minute.

Plan to stay with us for about 15 to 20 minutes after your procedure. A nurse will be available to answer any questions you might have and to review discharge instructions and follow up care.

When you go home

  • Activities: Rest and avoid activities that might aggravate your pain. You can usually return to work and exercising on the next day.
  • Pain: Ice on the injection site and taking your regular pain medications will help with any discomfort. Some patients initially experience more pain after the injection when the anesthetic wears off because the steroid can be irritating to the nerves.
  • Follow-up: Make an appointment for follow up or to repeat the injection in one to two weeks if you still have symptoms.
Many patients will have pain relief after the first or second injection. Some patients will need three injections, don’t be discouraged! Talk with your physician.

Find a Doctor

Find primary care physicians and specialists.


Classes - Yoga, CPR, and more

Newton-Wellesley offers a variety of wellness center and childbirth education classes throughout the year. Learn CPR, practice yoga, prepare a sibling for a new child in the family, and more.
» Class info


2015 Top Docs List

More than 30 Newton-Wellesley affiliated physicians made Boston magazine's annual list recognizing some of the area's best doctors.
» Learn More  

Hospital Ranked #11

US News and World Report has ranked Newton-Wellesley Hospital 11th in Massachusetts.
» Learn More