Discussions By Condition: Medical Stories

Occipital headaches - any suggestions on what to try next

Posted In: Medical Stories 2 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • November 17, 2006
  • 09:33 AM

Hi, last year in May I was rear-ended and ended up with a cervical sprain (whiplash), which related in me having chronic headaches in the back of my head on the right side just behind my ear. I had a cat scan 4 days after the accident and it showed now irregularities. After many trials with different medications we managed to get a mix right and I was able to return to work after 3 weeks. To try and relieve my headaches my Dr suggested, Acupuncture which didn't work, then I had an x-ray to make sure there were no broken bones then I visited a chiropractor which also didn't work, next came a series of visits to the osteopath. By this time my referral to the orthopaedic surgeon had come through after a visit to him he suggested I have physio, and an MRI, which showed nothing. After 3 months of physio and no improvement he suggested another round of acupuncture. This involved putting the needles into the back of my head. On the 4th visit (Feb this year) when the acupuncturist put the needle into the spot with the most pain I advised him that the pain was unbearable, he said it would settle down after about a minute I was in tears due to the pain and I asked him to take the needle out. Since then my headaches have increased 100% and I have been off work for 4 months –both trying to get the pain under control and seeing a psychologist for pain management -and after trailing a gradual return to work, discovered I was unable to do my job for a full 8 hours a day due to the pain. My medication has been doubled since the original accident and after attending the Pain Clinic, which diagnosed me as having occipital nerve damage. I have had steroid injections that gave me 1 days relief instead of the promised 2-3 weeks. Any suggestions on what I can try next???

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  • Hi,I certainly do not know if I can help but ... I can relate to what you are going through & then some. I was hit with an acute headache back in mid-August which has not gone away to date. After losing a month of work I'm back but I too can not manage to put in a full 8 hours, currently I'm on short term disability 4-6 hrs a day as tolerated due to the pain. This status has to be reevaluated every 30 days. I was a 60+ hr week person and people depended on me for that. I can't even look them in the eye anymore I'm so tired of apologizing all the time. When I do get into conversations at work I'm either saying stupid things because of all the ***n drugs I'm on, not remembering things - again because of the drugs or, best yet ... losing it and yelling at people (I work in a high stress environment) over things that I normmaly wouldn't because I am in so much pain. I've had days that are better than others but I have yet to have a day without pain since it started ... although there were those blessed pain-free morphine-induced hours back when it first started :) ... Anyway I believe I have stumbled across the scource of my pain and hopefully today will prove I'm correct. I am going to have the nerve block injection for Occipital Neuralgia that it sounds as though you have had. I pray that it works. I know you've said that it did not provide lasting relief but, it did stop the pain for a day correct? Perhaps they did not have the optimum injection site. Have you researched Occipital Neuralgia at all? What was most telling for me were the grahic images I was able to find on line that showed me where the occiptial nerves exit your neck and the path(s) they take on both sides of your head ~ to include back behind your ears!!. It was both enlightening and infurating at the same time since I had been pointing to the exact areas as the origin of my pain each & every time I would see each & every doctor!!:( What was worse was reading all the articles about it as being a source of acute & chronic headaches with the pain described just as I'd been describing it TO THE NEUROLOGIST for three months!!! Seeing that I'm getting all carried away here I'm not sure if I'm helping you in this response or myself anymore but seriously, look into again and see if the location and description of the pain maps to what you are experiencing. I can only tell you that I know the pain you are going through. Use the every resource you can find on the internet - alter your searches and read all the articles that just seem to relate. You will get to the bottom of it. You have to be your own advocate in this case - diagnosing nerve problems, especially those stemming from the neck are quite difficult - do not rely on the Doctors to solve this completely on their own - especially if they have not done so already. I have been trying to get to the bottom of nerve problems that are effecting my hands which I maintain are stemming from my neck for the last 3.5 years, this is just the latest (and worse) source of pain. Hopefully today will at least stop the pain (I'll take the 2-3 weeks :)). Good Luck~ Irish
    kldirish 1 Replies
    • November 27, 2006
    • 02:57 PM
    • 0
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  • [OMG! I know EXACTLY what you've been going through! Did the nerve block help? I'm trying that myself later this month. I started with the pain in May, now almost two years ago. After multiple trips to my physician and misdiagnoses, I finally insisted on an MRI. The MRI showed a mass in the occipital region. My physician called all over town, and finally found one neurosurgeon who was willing to see me. He was borderline rude and insisted that removing said tumor wouldn't help my pain. After a very painful recovery, I was headache free...for 3 months...and then it returned. I insisted on another MRI, only to find that the neurosurgeon didn't even touch the tumor...IT WAS STILL THERE! So, I traveled to Emory in Atlanta for one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, and scheduled a do-over. They performed and MRI-guided surgery and successfully removed the tumor, which turned out to be a neuroma of the occipital nerve, 3 cm in size. My recovery was quite smooth and I remained pain-free, until I had my staples removed three weeks later. By the time I got to my car, I was in a full-blown neuralgic headache. So, I returned a couple of weeks later to the neurosurgeon with a brand-new MRI disc in hand (had the MRI the day before). He was very crass and stated that the tumor was "in the bucket." I asked if he'd had time to look at the MRI I brought, and he stated "yeah, I mean, it's fine!" So, a week later, I got the radiology report of that MRI, which stated that there was "remaining or recurrent neuroma" or scar tissue, and a hematoma...I would say that's hardly nothing. My pain is now worse than ever. I'm continuing to work , although it is very very difficult...near impossible. I make mistakes frequently due my inability to think through the headaches and the medication I take for it. Mistakes are unacceptable and dangerous in my line of work. I've been waiting to see the pain specialist for 2 months, but plan to have a nerve block with him ASAP! Wish me luck! Good luck to you...hope you all find solutions to your pain...let me know if you do!
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