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How to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia: Expert Tips by Doctors

Does chronic headache and neck pain keep you up at night? If so, you may have occipital neuralgia – a headache originating from the nerves in the back of your head. It’s estimated that occipital neuralgia affects about three out of every 100,000 people yearly. One of the main issues with this condition is that finding a comfortable sleeping position can be pretty tricky. It happens mainly on one side and can cause intense throbbing or piercing pain in the back of your head.

Here are some ways to manage this condition and sleep better:

1. Use a Cold Pack

Occipital neuralgia happens by inflammation of the occipital nerves. These nerves run from the back of your head to your scalp.

A cold pack will reduce the inflammation and pain associated with occipital neuralgia.

To use a cold pack:

  • Wrap the cold pack in a towel or cloth.
  • Apply the cold pack to the back of your head for 15-20 minutes.
  • Repeat as needed.

You can also alternate between a cold pack and a heating pad to help reduce pain and inflammation.

2. Physical Therapy and Massage

Physical therapy and massage can help relieve the pain of occipital neuralgia. A physical therapist can teach you exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back of your head and neck. Massage may also help to relieve tension and pain. For example, a trigger point massage technique can help to release knots of muscle tension contributing to your pain.

3. Take Medications

Oral medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce the pain associated with occipital neuralgia. If over-the-counter medications are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe more vital ones. Tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants are effective in treating occipital neuralgia.

Local anesthetics or steroids into the muscles in the back of your head can also provide relief. Steroid injections or nerve blocks contain a medication that helps reduce inflammation. It can help relieve the pressure on your occipital nerves.

4. Lifestyle Changes

You can make a few lifestyle changes along with medications and other treatments to help relieve your occipital neuralgia pain. For example, while working on the laptop, take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your neck and shoulders. If you have to sit for long periods, make sure your chair provides good back support.

Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians is one of the best pain management practices in Chicago. If you are struggling with occipital neuralgia and are looking for relief, our pain management doctors can help.