A suboccipital nerve block is an injection procedure that reduces pain within the four suboccipital muscles located along the back of the neck and at the base of the skull. Frequent movements and damage to the occipital and suboccipital nerves can lead to a number of pain symptoms and conditions such as tension headaches, occipital neuralgia, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). Much like other nerve blocks, suboccipital nerve blocks contain a local anesthetic and steroid medication that can be administered for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons.
What To Expect
Patients must lie face down to provide the TriState Pain Institute physician with easy access to the injection site. As soon as the targeted area has been properly sanitized, a medication solution containing local anesthetics and corticosteroids will be created and injected into the suboccipital nerves. This area typically includes the back of the neck and base of the skull. A slight burning pain may be felt during the injections, but this feeling should diminish after a few seconds when the anesthetic has taken effect. A bandage may be applied following the procedure.
Shortly after the procedure, patients will be taken into a room to recover. Unless there are complications, patients will be able to return home that same day. Soreness around the injection site and a mild headache may be felt a few hours after the nerve block. The steroid may take 3-4 days to take affect. Most patients will experience pain relief that lasts several days to a few months. A TriState Pain Institute physician will explain postprocedural care instructions with you and schedule a follow-up appointment. Patients will need to rest several hours after the procedure and avoid driving or operating heavy machinery for 12-24 hours post-op.