Occipital neuralgia is a shooting pain or sensitivity that occurs at the base of the skull and neck. Some people experience numbness in the area, or the skin can become so sensitive that they are unable to wash their hair or find a comfortable position on a pillow. Sometimes shooting pain or an electric-feeling "zap" travels from one point to another, spreading to the side of the face. Causes of occipital neuralgia typically affect the nerves between the spine and upper neck, and make them begin firing.
Arthritis can cause pinching at the root of the nerve. When the condition affects the neck joints, it can cause the tissues around them to become inflamed, which places pressure on the nerve and triggers occipital neuralgia. Typically chronic, the effects can be difficult to manage due to their association with arthritis. Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can both trigger occipital neuralgia.
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