Occipital neuralgia is pain resulting from trauma to the lesser and/or greater occipital nerves, located in the back of the head. This pain can be felt in the upper back, neck and behind the ears and is usually sharp and shock-like in nature. Numbness can also occur in these regions. It can be difficult to differentiate from other headaches like migraines and tension headaches.
Occipital neuralgia is caused by any insult to the occipital nerves. Injury to the scalp, including head trauma is a possible cause. Tight occipital musculature leading to pinched nerves can also be a contributing factor to this condition. Inflammation in the area can lead to irritation of the nerves, which can then lead to pain. Often times, it is difficult for physicians to pinpoint as exact cause.