Do you suffer from occipital neuralgia? This condition affects millions of people every year. This blog post will discuss what occipital neuralgia is and how it can affect your sleep. We will also explore ENT doctors’ tips on how to get a good night’s rest. Finally, we ask the question: what is the best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia?
What is Occipital Neuralgia?
Occipital nerves start between the bones in your neck, go through some muscles at the back of your head, and then into your scalp. They sometimes reach nearly as far forward as your forehead, but they don’t go near your face or ears.
When these occipital nerves are damaged or irritated, they can send signals to the brain that feel like electric zaps or tingles. These nerves can cause the neck and head to feel painful to the touch, and the pain can run along your neck and head. Some individuals feel numbness, while others feel extreme tenderness.
Occipital Neuralgia Diagnosis
Your ENT doctor may find that you feel tender in the occipital nerve area by palpating your neck and head. Often, first-line treatment is a nerve block. If this works to deaden your pain and tenderness, your doctor will let you know that it’s likely you suffer from occipital neuralgia. At this point, your doctor may look at other more permanent solutions to help you.
Your ENT doctor may prescribe medications to relax the nerves that fire and cause the pain. They may also use steroid injections, botulinum toxin or talk with you about surgical options.
Tips for Sleeping With Occipital Neuralgia
There are some things you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep if you suffer from occipital neuralgia. Try these more natural ways to handle the struggle, but see your ENT doctor if the pain persists and affects your sleep.
- Place a cool or cold pack on the back of your head and neck for fifteen minutes before bedtime. The cold will help to reduce any inflammation and pain.
- Use a comfortable pillow that supports your head and neck well. Consider trying a cervical pillow if you have not already done so.
- Elevate your head with supportive pillows when sleeping in any position other than on your back. Elevating the head helps to decrease tension on the nerves in your neck.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Is There a Best Way to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia?
There is no one best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia. What works best for you may vary depending on the severity of your condition and the medications you are taking. However, many individuals find relief by sleeping with their head elevated and using a cervical pillow. Others find that sleeping on their side with a pillow between their knees is best. Experiment until you find what works best for you.
If you suffer from occipital neuralgia, talk to your ENT doctor about ways to get a good night’s sleep. There are many things they can do to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What If Medication Doesn’t Work for Me?
An “occipital release surgery” procedure may help if your condition doesn’t get better. Your ENT specialist is a board-certified surgeon specializing in head and neck issues. They may perform surgery to help you decompress the greater occipital nerves.
In this same-day outpatient procedure, the surgeon cuts in the back of your neck. They then release the greater occipital nerves from anything compressing them. The surgeon may also work with other nerves that may cause trouble for you. With this surgery, you can usually go home the same day and recover in a couple of weeks.
You will likely have some pain and swelling after the surgery, but it is usually mild. You will also need to take some time off work.
If you have tried other treatments without success, or if your pain is severe, speak with your ENT doctor about the possibility of occipital neuralgia surgery. They can help you decide if this is the best option for you.
Why Use a Cervical Pillow?
A cervical pillow supports your head and neck while you sleep. It helps keep your spine aligned, which can reduce pain. If you suffer from occipital neuralgia, using a cervical pillow may help to decrease the tension on the nerves in your neck. Aligning your spine can help to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.
If you have difficulty sleeping because of occipital neuralgia, talk to your ENT doctor about trying a cervical pillow. They may be able to prescribe one for you that will help you get the best night’s sleep possible.
We Can Help
If you have difficulty sleeping because of occipital neuralgia, our board-certified ENT doctors at Enticare can help. We may prescribe medications to relax the nerves that fire and cause the pain. We may also use steroid injections, botulinum toxin or talk with you about surgical options.
We can help you get a good night’s sleep if you suffer from occipital neuralgia. Talk to us today about how we can help you get the best sleep possible by reducing your pain and tenderness. You deserve a good night’s sleep. Let us help you find it.