Ailments & ConditionsYour Health

What Causes Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is a type of headache that begins in the back of your head or upper neck and radiates to other areas, such as the scalp, forehead, or eyes. It is often more painful than usual headaches or migraines. The symptoms tend to appear suddenly and last a couple of seconds. The feeling can be described as shock-like, throbbing, or piercing. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of occipital neuralgia.


Some forms of arthritis can affect your upper cervical spine and pinch nerves, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. As a result, people with these conditions can be at a higher risk of occipital neuralgia. This cause is most common in older people, but it could happen to people of all ages. Degeneration caused by arthritic conditions can make the cervical spine break down over time. When the part becomes stiffer, more strain and pressure will be placed on your occipital nerves, which is a major risk factor. [1]