Occipital neuralgia: anatomic considerations

Cesmebasi, A., Muhleman, M.A., Hulsberg, P., Gielecki, J., Matusz, P., Tubbs, R.S., Loukas, M., 2015c. Occipital neuralgia: anatomic considerations. Clin Anat 28, 101–108. doi:10.1002/ca.22468.


Occipital neuralgia is a debilitating disorder first described in 1821 as recurrent headaches localized in the occipital region. Other symptoms that have been associated with this condition include paroxysmal burning and aching pain in the distribution of the greater, lesser, or third occipital nerves. Several etiologies have been identified in the cause of occipital neuralgia and include, but are not limited to, trauma, fibrositis, myositis, fracture of the atlas, and compression of the C-2 nerve root, C1-2 arthrosis syndrome, atlantoaxial lateral mass osteoarthritis, hypertrophic cervical pachymeningitis, cervical cord tumor, Chiari malformation, and neurosyphilis. The management of occipital neuralgia can include conservative approaches and/or surgical interventions. Occipital neuralgia is a multifactorial problem where multiple anatomic areas/structures may be involved with this pathology. A review of these etiologies may provide guidance in better understanding occipital neuralgia.