If you have occipital neuralgia and react badly to drugs or don’t want injections or surgery, there are alternative therapies available to treat this condition. These include:
Chiropractic neck adjustment loosens muscles, releasing tension and allowing inflammation to heal and the pressure to be taken off the nerves. Patients with occipital neuralgia have recovered and become symptom-free after having chiropractic treatment. An author from The Clinical Chiropractic Journal wrote "There is no uniformly effective treatment for this condition, once conservative treatment fails, surgery is the next option but there are many reported side effects and failed surgical cases. This case demonstrates how this syndrome was relieved in one patient by chiropractic management." The article then went on to describe a patient who was essentially cured by chiropractic adjustments.
Patients with long-term headache conditions were found to benefit from cranial osteopathy. Cranial osteopathy is a type of head manipulation and massage that disperses pressure and stress from the body. In 2004, 26 people were involved in a study to assess the value of osteopathy in patients with chronic headache conditions. All 26 were given muscular relaxation exercises to do at home and they completed a headache diary about the frequency and intensity of their headaches, but the placebo group was given no other intervention. The control group also had three osteopathic treatments. It was found that "The people in this study who did relaxation exercises and received three osteopathy treatments had significantly more days per week without headache than those who did only relaxation exercises."
Greater attention to diet, and in particular, B vitamins may help relieve occipital neuralgia by boosting the body’s ability to heal itself. Vitamin B12 aids normal nervous system development and nerve regeneration so some patients take a B12 supplement. Having plenty of fatty acids like fish oils or flax seed oils can be helpful in reducing inflammation around the nerves.
A registered homeopath may be able to prescribe remedies for occipital neuralgia. There are also homeopathic tonics available that help the nerves. Remedies like German chamomile are anti-spasmodic and pain relieving.
A study in China found that acupuncture and acupoint injection was effective as a treatment for 92.8 percent of greater occipital neuralgia patients. Half of the patients had been given the anti-convulsant, carbamazepine and only 71.4 percent of them found it helped, making the acupuncture more effective than standard treatment.
Clinical Chiropractic, volume 6, issue 3, Pages 120-128 (September 2003).
A Comparison of Selected Osteopathic Treatment
and Relaxation for Tension-Type Headaches, American Headache Society - http://patientsites.com/media/file/290541/OsteoHeadache.pdf
J Tradit Chin Med. 2008 Sep;28(3):175-7 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19004197
Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Sep;27(9):668-70 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17926620
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.