Occipital Neuralgia and Brain Injury

Occipital Neuralgia and Brain Injury

I had a mild head injury almost 14 years ago but didn’t have it medically checked out at the time. However, I have a large dent in the back of my head where the impact occurred, and if I touch the area it gives me a blinding headache. Obviously, the brain injury didn’t end up being life threatening, but why is that area of my head still be hurting so many years after the fact?


Your symptoms are consistent with an injury to a nerve in the back of your scalp. Occipital neuralgia is caused by an injury to the occipital nerve. The occipital nerve comes out of the cervical spine and gives sensation to the back of the scalp. With an injury to the skull that left a dent, injury to this nerve is easy to imagine.

You should consider seeing a physician familiar with traumatic brain injury. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, medication and/or nerve blocking injections can be effective in treating this problem.

Posted on BrainLine December 19, 2011.

Comments (24)

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I have occipital neuralgia as the result of a fall and concussion and was getting relief from injections of corticosteroids. The relief was lasting 3-4 weeks. However, I just received a Botox injection. It has completely eliminated the pain and headaches and I supposed to last at least 3 months!!

Its good at first but remember as tolerances increase downside is effective aspect decreases I've had it over 5 years inbetween sumitriptan sub cut injection helps and migramax powders

I was in a car accident 3 years ago and still under the treatment of a neurologist, a rehab Dr. and now a plastic surgeon and pain management Neuro and PA, oh and lets not forget my GP who has not kept up with any of my treatments, but is suppose to keep up on my meds and does not...... Lets talk about a broken system of Medicine in America and providers who are at the mercy of protical and hospital policy. I went in after the accident was driven to ER by a family member right after the accident, diagnosed with concussion and whiplash, sent home 8 hours later to nurse my wounds....followed up with GP....3 days later due to terrible head and neck pain...the concussion later turned into post concussive syndrome and /or a MTBI. My dr. went on maternity leave....good for her leaving me with an assortment of others to fill in 3 months in I asked for a referral to a neurologist....After 2 office visits /6 months later they did an MRI of the neck found two avulsion fractures at C7 and T1. Yes after 6 months the neurologist refereed me to a pain management DR who requested the MRI, not impressed with neuro ....hence the mri showed the avulsion fx. Today ....3 years later, I am being treated for Permanent post concussive syndrome and Greater Occipital nerve damage. Still on Tramadol for pain Tizanadine as a muscle relaxer....Zonisimide, cymbalta, Odansitrone Lidocaine nerve blocks every 2 weeks, and I have done alot on my own, such as cranial sac rial, energy work, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, sensory deprivation chamber.... to get the head pain blurred vision, light sensitivity and my speaking issues under control as I developed a studded from the brain injury which damage or affected the cognitive and executive functioning of my brain .. The Medical community is a joke.......JUST a JOKE.....frustrated beyond belief. The treatment has been lacking at best. Getting prescription refills when the Neuros want the GP to write the prescriptions, as they want one dr. doing all the meds....that too is a huge cluster of errors. seriously Medicine in america needs to get a grip and start treating patients and not the insurance company or hospital, clinic politics how about you do whats best for the patient. That is my frustration. Thanks for letting me share my story.

The above story the same happened to me and it just went in 5 years completely understand and also just as frustrated and mine happened at work. It’s terrible how you have to fight for yourself to get better when the medical field , the city and workers comp want to fight you. I have all the same symptoms and trials . I have done much on my own tried all the stuff the above person has tried and on same medications and more because I can not sleep , get occipital nerve blocks to relieve pain and pressure .

I don’t know who you are but you just saved my life. I feel so alone in my pain and have driven all over the country for help the pain I am in is unteal and I just resonated with every word you wrote. Wow. Thank you for being you.

Hi, I am very curious about your case as I suspect something similar with me. I fell really bad on the back of my head when I was 14 but never went to see the doctor. How did your speech ability change? Could you describe it a little bit for me please?


I also have had similar issues with illness . And worse, as I age, that seems to be the go to reason that all physicians use now. You go to the doctor not feeling well or aches and pains they ask my age. I recently strained my thumb after bending in back trying to hold onto a slipping bag of concrete. I went to an urgent care. They asked my age and said I had arthritis . I was told to use aspercream or something similar for pain. I have been wearing a brace, I bought myself, for 3 weeks now with some improvements. You just gotta take care of yourself.

I have had help with cbd oil and cbd pain cream.

Ok in regards to the occipital Nueralgia, I was diagnosed with this disgusting injury as well. I acquired this after 2 spinal surgeries resulting in a double CSpine fusion from C3,4 and C5,6. I have a horrible pinch that goes from the base of my skull up around to my eye in one string. (Best way to describe it. It’s like a long string of pinch around my skull). The reason for the fusion is because my discs burst out from each side ripped through the nerves surrounding the spinal cord and pinched off the spinal cord. My question is, does having ON automatically mean you have a brain injury? I have crazy mood swings I forget everything, I am tired some days where I sleep for days. I have gone in for very regular (every 3-4 mths) Steroid injections into the occipital nerve to calm down the inflammation and to do a nerve block. My worker w Spinal cord injury thinks I may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury due to this and feels I should have this investigated.

I have a dent too but the dent is flat on top and left a slightly noticeable protruding on the back of head. I have no headache or any other problem except ringing in ears/head since 10 days. the ringing gets worse when i rest my head on pillow. Is it because of the dent straining the nerve or nerve being strained? The ringing is severe even when lying on side of my side. Is skull dent permanent? How much time would it take for occipital neuralgia to cure on its own?

Why is it necessary to get a referral from an M.D. who is clueless and feels insulted that you don't fall for their prescription-pill-protocol when you need to see a neurologist after a T.B.I. ?
Our medical associations are broken when they go strictly by insurance-company-catering protocols designed to negate evidence of occipital nerve injuries by inadequate CT scans.
Every neuroradiologists knows you need an MRI that is 300% more likely to find damaged nerve axons and fibers than will a CT scan, therefore insurance companies have lobbied against more costly MRI scans to diagnose occipital nerve damage and subdural microhemmoraging.
Nevertheless, we must rely on the referrals of an idiot before we can go into the village.

Had the same problem. Went to the ER but the neurologist requests a referral from a private care. Ridiculousness.

I am now here waiting with severe pains in my neck and head as well as facial swelling that these so-called Dr can't diagnose with a ct scan.

Hi my name is Max. Almost two years ago I hit the back of my head real hard skiing. I had a concussion and I still have many problems. My visions feels really off and kind of blurry. The back of my head feels really tender and my whole head feels vulnerable. I have constant neck pains and it is always stiff and uncomfortable. I was also just diagnosed with hypothyroidism as a result from the concussion. Any chance I have occipital neuralgia or any upper cervical injuries

I had a concussion when I was 21 that lasted 4 weeks or more. I fell off a 4' podium and hit my head on concrete leaving a flattened spot in the back of my head. I don't have daily headaches but I'm wondering if this might cause me to have glitches in my vis in and socially be unable to register when people are done talking, I interrupt a lot and I don't mean to. I also misread information and often hit things in my peripheral vision with my car because I miss read how far they are away. I have had several fender benders where I misread the distance between myself and the car in front of me. Could this fall have damaged my occipital neve in this way?? No pain, just glitches

I have a depth perception problem. I have to be careful on bad days.

I fall off kerbs and steps because of it.

My left is off about 2 inches.

I forget the sequence of things. Might open a door on fridge but don't close it.

It's weird.

You are not alone in your suffering friends, and you are not crazy- we the mighty, must endure.

In October 2013 I split the back of my head open, needing twelve staples. Since then I have had loss of vision, strokes, and now I'm smelling oranges (of which I don't like). I'm seeing double now and the headaches are debilitating. The two neurologists I saw are dumbfounded so I'm seeking a third opinion. I have blood clots on my brain and a mass in there too. Just want relief 😢 I'm only 45.

I had a head injury in oct 2012. Skull fractures no open injuries but the reason I bring this up other than paralyzing head pain my only long term side effects due to nerve damage is loss of taste and smell. The smell I didn’t notice immediately and smelt specific scents for weeks at a time. To this day I have episodes where my brain “hallucinates” smells aka smelling things that aren’t around me or even made up scents that I can’t place. I’m only 25. Best wishes through your journey. We’re blessed to be here

I suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result to a blow to the left side of my head.  That was 2014.  I still have head pain there that gets worse when I have worked my brain (lots of mind work, physical movement, and such).  I also have a spot that if I touch it hurts like crazy.  I knew my brain itself can't hurt, but that is how I always described it.  Thank you for asking the question and thank you, Doctor, for your answer.  We all now understand it is the nerves in the head that are injured and causing our nasty "TBI headaches"!  Now I know exactly what to talk to my neurologist about at our next visit.

I suffered a traumatic brain injury and had severe indentation to the back of the brain where the occipital lobe nerves are and suffered severe headaches and dizziness and pain in my back spine and neck too.

Well yet another collapsed episode and severe headaches and no sleeping and still no futher with the doctors sorting this out. Now trying to sort out seeing doctors in London but who knows what tomorrow will bring. They just don't listen and understand what you are saying. Please help me.

I too was in car accident . I sat in back in non moving car when we got hit car hit us was under me . Don't remember the hit but it felt like nothing I blinked saw a black dot when I blinked . Felt like I got winded thats all. But nope 2 days later could move my upper body head hurt so bad and the lights hurt seemed to trigger the headache pressures. Can't do groceries or go to malls . Need to lie down every where like no and and buts about it. . But just wondering about the black dot.? Anyone else get that ? If so what does it mean . ? I haven't said anything cause I thought I was crazy . Has anyone seen it too?

Hi Natalie...saw your post. So sorry about your accident. I had something similar when a 25 lb object fell and hit me in the head. You are not crazy! It sounds like maybe something affected your visual field or convergence ability. I have a permanent double vision and a blind spot in my peripheral vision which has been helped tremendously by my vision therapist. It might help you too if you find one in your area that treats concussive patients. There may be something out of alignment in your vision that can be helped. Good luck..

I suffered a traumatic brain injury and have a severe dent in the back of my head I have severe headaches and have told the doctors that my eyes and ears are not registering to my brain what they see or hear. I was taken to the hospital when this happened as I lost oxygen to my brain and had to be bought back to life in resus. Can anything be done to help me.