How Migraine Differs From Occipital Neuralgia

Many want migraine relief in Morgantown WV but do not know how to distinguish between migraines and other conditions. We’re here to help. 

Migraine is a neurological disorder that induces severe headache, often characterized as throbbing or pounding. While it can affect both sides of the head, one-sided head pain is the hallmark of migraines. You may feel pain in your temples or behind one ear or eye.

Other migraine symptoms

The following symptoms may also accompany migraines: 

  • Auras or visual disturbances
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of vision

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines, download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.

Morgantown Migraine Relief eBook

Migraine episodes are common in the morning but may happen at any time of the day. The head pain may last anywhere between 4 hours to 3 days straight. Some people have it worse as they deal with chronic migraines. In short, they experience migraine attacks 15 times or more every month. Lucky are those who only deal with episodic migraines. They have less than 14 migraine episodes every month. 

One of the saddest things about having migraines is the disruption it causes in your ability to execute daily tasks. Many migraineurs miss going to work and social functions. Some are even robbed of fun, quality time with their families and loved ones. 

Who is most at risk of migraines?

Everyone can get migraines, but these people have higher chances of having migraines: 

  • Women
  • Those with a family history of migraines
  • People aged 15 to 55

What Does Occipital Neuralgia Feel Like?

First of all, occipital neuralgia is a disorder that occurs when the occipital nerves suffer from inflammation, irritation, or injury. These group of nerves begins at the top of the head down through the spinal cord. 

When you have occipital neuralgia, you may feel pain anywhere at the base of your skull or back of your head. It shares the same symptoms as migraines. However, treatment for occipital neuralgia is different from migraines; thus, a physician’s proper diagnosis is very important. 

Symptoms of occipital neuralgia

  • Burning, throbbing or aching pain at the base of the head and going to the scalp
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • A tender scalp
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Pain when you move your neck
  • Sensitivity to light

Conditions associated with occipital neuralgia

The following health conditions are linked to occipital neuralgia:

  • Trauma to the back of the head
  • Neck tension or tight neck muscles
  • Tumors in the neck
  • Cervical disc disease
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis

Occipital Neuralgia and Migraine: Their Main Differences

If you are unsure whether you have migraines or occipital neuralgia, a doctor can help confirm and give the correct diagnosis. You’d know it is occipital neuralgia based on these factors:

  • Basic exam: When the doctor presses the base of the skull where the occipital nerves are located, and you feel pain, it is occipital neuralgia. 
  • Patient history: If your head pain starts at your neck and spreads through your head all the way to your eyebrows, chances are it is occipital neuralgia.
  • Nerve block: The doctor may try to numb the occipital nerve just to see if the pain clears off. If it does, then it is occipital neuralgia, no doubt about it. 
  • Triggers: If your headache begins following exposure to specific triggers like stress, weather changes, and sensory stimuli, then you have migraines. They do not occur to people with occipital neuralgia. In addition, aura or visual disturbances and other neurological symptoms are present in migraines. Occipital neuralgia does not have these features. 

Ways to Relieve Occipital Neuralgia

Once you have confirmed you have occipital neuralgia, you can follow these steps to ease the head pain you are dealing with:

  • Lay down and rest in a quiet room.
  • Apply a heating pad to your neck.
  • Massage the painful and tight neck muscles.

Your doctor may prescribe medications—either nerve blocks, muscle relaxers, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, or steroid shots. However, if you’re one of those who prefer natural solutions to problems, upper cervical chiropractic care may fit your needs.  

Natural Occipital Neuralgia and Migraine Relief in Morgantown WV

Unknown to many people, a possible principal cause of both occipital neuralgia and migraines is a misalignment in the neck. If the upper cervical spine’s uppermost bone—the atlas—shifts out of alignment, it can irritate the occipital nerves, leading to occipital neuralgia. It can also add stress to the brainstem, which can result in migraines and other headaches. 

Upper cervical chiropractors are highly skilled in locating and fixing the atlas misalignment, no matter how small it is. It only takes as little as ¼ of a millimeter of subluxation to cause damage to the body’s functions. Thankfully, upper cervical chiropractors carry out a gentle technique to move the misaligned atlas bone back into its correct place. The method is natural and devoid of any force to adjust the bone. 

If you aren’t convinced yet by upper cervical chiropractic, you can check out a study participated by 101 patients who had headaches or migraines. After getting upper cervical chiropractic care tailored to their specific cases, all patients reported a reduction in the frequency and magnitude of their headaches and migraines.  Here at Mountain State Wellness, we employ the same method used in the study. Hence, many of our patients enjoy the same results, many even reporting complete resolution of their migraines or occipital neuralgia. We encourage you to call our office at (304) 292-774 or fill out our online form if you have these two conditions. Do it as soon as you can. Do not delay your way to migraine relief in Morgantown WV.

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