An occipital nerve block is an injection of local anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory agent around the greater and lesser occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head, just above the neck area. The anti-inflammatory medication reduces the inflammation and swelling of tissue around the occipital nerves. This may, in turn, reduce pain and other symptoms caused by the inflammation or irritation of the nerves and surrounding structures. Typically, headaches over the back of the head, including certain types of tension headaches and migraine headaches, may respond to occipital nerve blocks.
The immediate pain relief effect is usually from the local anesthetic injected. This wears off in a few hours. The anti-inflammatory starts working in 3 to 5 days and its effect can last for several days to a few months. If you respond well to the injections, your doctor may recommend additional injections if the symptoms return.