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Treating Occipital Neuralgia Naturally With Chiropractic Care

Published Date: 
August 1, 2023
A woman is suffering from an occipital neuralgia headache.

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective tool for treating occipital neuralgia. 

Understanding Occipital Neuralgia 

Occipital neuralgia is a headache disorder. It affects the occipital nerves, which are the nerves that run through your scalp. These nerves are responsible for carrying messages from your brain through your scalp.

One of the most common causes of occipital neuralgia is tightness in the neck, but pinched nerves in the neck can also cause it. This is what makes chiropractic care so effective for treating occipital nerve pain. 

In general, the causes of occipital neuralgia include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trauma
  • Cervical disc disease
  • Compression of the C2 or C3 nerves
  • Tumors
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel issues
  • Gout

Anyone can develop occipital neuralgia. However, the following issues increase your risk:

  • Vasculitis
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis


A woman is suffering from a headache.

Symptoms of occipital neuralgia can last a few minutes or a few hours. Symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Aching
  • A feeling of electric shock
  • Throbbing
  • Sudden, sharp, or piercing pain

Will Occipital Neuralgia Go Away on its Own?

Yes, this is often the case. Pain goes away as the nerves heal. If your body can heal the nerves without intervention or with only mild intervention, the pain associated with the condition will resolve.

Treatment Options 

There are several ways to treat occipital neuralgia pain, including:

  • Heat therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Anticonvulsant medication
  • Botulinum toxin (BOTOX) injections
  • Nerve block injections
  • Surgery

Treatment aims to decrease pain and reduce the risk of flare-ups. The most aggressive treatments are only used in extreme cases when intense pain is frequent and other treatment approaches fail.

Surgical treatments include:

How Chiropractors Treat Occipital Neuralgia Pain 

There are several ways that a chiropractor can help with treating occipital neuralgia pain. In most cases, chiropractic care is sought after other options fail. However, if someone wants to avoid medication and more invasive treatments, they might seek chiropractic care before trying anything else. It’s a safe and effective option for treating or preventing occipital neuralgia pain.

Chiropractic adjustments allow for releasing gasses trapped in the body, including carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. When these toxins are trapped in the body, you experience pain in the affected joint or, in the case of occipital neuralgia, the nerves.

Chiropractic adjustments help alleviate the underlying cause of occipital neuralgia, which results in pain relief. During an adjustment, patients lay on a table that might be slanted. The chiropractor applies direct force through controlled motion or stretching affected joints. This restores proper alignment of the vertebrae, releasing trapped toxins and gasses within joints and alleviating symptoms affecting your daily life.

There is little to no pain accompanied by chiropractic adjustments. Sometimes there is a popping or cracking sensation. 

Chiropractors also use massage therapy to treat occipital neuralgia. These two therapies are often used in conjunction to treat disorders. While chiropractic care focuses on problems related to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, massage therapy focuses on deep tissue, soft tissue, and the body's muscles.

A chiropractor performing a neck adjustment for a patient that suffers from headaches.

The benefits of massage therapy include:

  • Healing: Increases oxygen to injured areas by opening up blood flow and circulation.
  • Pain management: Helps with acute pain and chronic pain.
  • Increased nutrient-rich blood flow and circulation: Targets specific areas and opens them up to nutrient-rich blood flow and circulation. 
  • Relieve stress and tension: Therapeutic massage releases muscle tension by targeting physically stressed and tense muscles and myofascial.
  • Increase the range of motion: Massage relieves stiffness, aches, and tension, all of which contribute to a reduced range of motion. 
  • Improve mental health: Massage therapy relieves emotional and mental stress. 
  • Improve posture: Many people slouch because of discomfort. Massage therapy alleviates this discomfort, making good posture possible.

Chiropractic Adjustment for Occipital Neuralgia

One of the primary benefits of using chiropractic adjustments for treating occipital neuralgia is that this approach addresses the root cause of the disorder. Other treatment options deal with only surface-level symptoms. They ease the pain or other symptoms, but they don’t fix the problem or do anything to prevent future bouts of occipital neuralgia.

Chiropractic care corrects the problem. It treats the symptoms, especially pain, improves the range of motion, and helps patients return to their regular lives. 

Chiropractic adjustments promote the body’s natural healing response. This enables the nerves in the scalp to heal, so there’s a reduced risk of occipital neuralgia.

Therapeutic Massage for Occipital Neuralgia

In most cases, trigger point massage therapy treats occipital neuralgia. This approach applies pressure to specific points in the body’s muscles to relieve pain.  Trigger points are tightened, knotted parts of the muscle. These cause discomfort and can irritate nerves. Applying pressure to these points releases the knot and relieves pain.

The benefits of trigger point massage therapy for occipital neuralgia include:

  • Pain relief
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Increased range of motion
  • Reduction in severe headaches, especially those related to occipital neuralgia

It’s also important to note that massage therapy feels good. Therapeutic massage might not be as relaxing as a traditional Swedish approach, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good. There are specific therapeutic benefits, but there’s also an overall improvement in well-being. This goes a long way in helping your body heal and restoring optimum health.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Occipital Neuralgia

A woman is getting a neck adjustment to treat Occipital Neuralgia.

Chiropractic care provides many benefits when it comes to treating occipital neuralgia, including:

  • An all-natural approach (no medication is needed)
  • Addresses the root cause of the problem
  • Brings the body back into alignment
  • Relieves pressure on the nerves by loosening the neck

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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