Occipital neuralgia: A neurosurgical perspective

M. Burhan Janjua, Sumanth Reddy, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Vin Shen Ban, Ali K. Ozturk, Steven W. Hwang, Amer F. Samdani, Peter G. Passias, William C. Welch, Vincent Arlet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Occipital neuralgia typically arises in the setting of nerve compression by fibrosis, surrounding anatomic structures, or osseous pathology, such as bone spurs or hypertrophic atlanto-epistropic ligament. It generally presents as paroxysmal bouts of sharp pain in the sensory distribution of the first three occipital nerves. Due to the long course of the greater occipital nerve (GON), and its peculiar anatomy, and location in a mobile region of the neck, it is unsurprising that the GON is at high risk for compression. Little is known how to diagnose or treat this neuropathic pain syndrome. The objective of this paper is to isolate the etiology involved, and treat this condition promptly. After all nonoperative efforts are exhausted, surgical transection of the nerve is the treatment of choice in these cases. An isolated C2 neurectomy or ganglionectomy is performed for an optimal pain relief. C1-2 instrumented fusion can be considered if, extensive facet arthropathy with instability is identified. Authors review the spectrum of treatment options for this debilitating condition, and discuss the case example of a patient who required conversion to a C1-C2 instrumented fusion following C2 ganglionectomy due to an underlying extensive degenerative disease and intraoperative findings suggestive of atlantoaxial instability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-270
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • C2 nerve root and ganglion
  • C2 neurectomy or ganglionectomy
  • Occipital neuralgia


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