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Occipital Nerve with Neck & Back Pain diagnosis
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Occipital Nerve with Neck & Back Pain diagnosis

For many years I've suffered with pain at the base of the skull.  Most of the time it is a dull ache that lasts days/weeks.  But sometimes ithe pain can be very sharp and lasts only seconds - experienced while moving arms.  Years ago I was given a series of 3 injections (6 months apart) in the base of the skull to stop the pain cycle of a muscle pushing on the occipital nerve.  The pain cycle was only stopped temporarily.  I also suffer from pain under the left shoulder blade which usually occurs from arm movement - usually it's the right side that moves & the left side that hurts.  In most cases where I have back pain, I also have pain at the base of the skull.

Are these 2 pains/symptoms related?  Is there a name for it?  Treatment suggestions, please.
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Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.

Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Causes of upper back/neck pain associated with headache are cervicogenic headache and occipital neuralgia.

Cervicogenic headache is a headache that is "referred" to the head from bony structures, muscles, and other soft tissue in the neck and shoulders. Symptoms are usually one-sided and include: precipitation of head pain by neck movement or awkward neck positions, head pain when external pressure is applied to the neck or occipital region, restricted range of motion of the neck, and neck, shoulder and arm pain. Treatment for cervicogenic headache includes physical therapy, medications, behavioral therapy, and other modalities.

Occipital neuralgia is caused by irritation or injury to two nerves that run from the upper neck to the back of the head. The irritation could be due to  neck trauma, pinching of the nerves (by muscles or arthritis), and other causes. Symptoms include a piercing sharp pain that travels from the upper neck to the back of the head and behind the ears. It is usually a one sided pain but can be on both sides of the head. Treatment includes physical therapy, medications, and in some cases injections, "nerve blocks", during which a physician injects the irritated nerves with an anesthetic.

It would be hard to tie in the shoulder blade pain with the pain at the base of the skull, though given your symptom description of pain in one shoulder with movement of the opposite arm, the pain is likely not neurologic (but rather musculoskeletal).

Discussion of your symptoms with your primary doctor/family physician is recommended.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
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