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Occipital Pain

I'm a breast cancer survivor I take Armidex because my breast cancer was hormone receptive. Yesterday I had pain to my right occipital area I massaged that area  thinking it was a tight muscle. Later in the day the right side of my neck had severe pain it felt like something was running through the carotid artery, it had a burning sensation, and was very sore to the touch of the skin.  I have some occasional numbness in my facial area that I blamed on my TMJ. My mastectomy also was on the right. Please let me know what you think.
Thank  you
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Avatar universal
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 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.

A concerning cause of neck pain associated with headache is a dissection: a small tear in the blood vessels that travel up the neck to the brain. This can occur spontaneously in people with certain conditions that affect the blood vessels, after neck trauma, or after chiropractic manipulation of the neck. The pain is often but not always associated with some sort of neurologic deficit as a dissection can often lead to a stroke. A dissection is diagnosed with a specific type of MRI test (MRA with fat saturation) or a CT angiogram.

I suggest that if your neck pain/ headache persists and/or becomes more severe, and/or if you develop neurologic signs like weakness on one side of the body, slurring of speech, double vision, difficulty speaking, and so on that you be seen immediately by a doctor. If you frequently experience headaches or neck pain and are not finding relief, evaluation by a neurologist, and perhaps a headache specialist, might be helpful for you.  

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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Avatar universal
See a spine specialist as soon as possible to have the appropriate testing performed. Or go to the ER everything has to be ruled out if your symptoms are near the spinal cord, and especially pain in the occipital area of your head could be benign or something else. We have pain, and other symptoms for all sorts of reasons from negative thinking not saying you are to~the most modest to severe conditions or no findings at all.  Best to you,
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