Outcomes of greater occipital nerve injections in pediatric patients with chronic primary headache disorders

Amy A. Gelfand, Amanda C. Reider, Peter J. Goadsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background Chronic migraine is common in pediatrics and generally disabling. In adults, infiltration of the area around the greater occipital nerve can provide short- to medium-term benefit in some patients. This study reports the efficacy of greater occipital nerve infiltrations in pediatric patients with chronic primary headache disorders. Methods Retrospective chart review of patients <18 years with a chronic primary headache disorder undergoing a first-time injection. Infiltrations were unilateral and consisted of a mixture of methylprednisolone acetate, adjusted for weight, and lidocaine 2%. Results Forty-six patients were treated. Thirty-five (76%) had chronic migraine, 9 (20%) new daily persistent headache (NDPH), and 2 (4%) a chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia. Medication overuse was present in 26%. Ages ranged from 7 to 17 years. Follow-up data were available for 40 (87%). Overall, 53% (21/40) benefitted, and 52% (11/21) benefitted significantly. Benefit onset ranged from 0 to 14 days, mean 4.7 (SD 4.3), with mean benefit duration of 5.4 (SD 4.9) weeks. In chronic migraine, 62% (18/29) benefitted, and 56% (10/18) significantly benefitted. In NDPH, 33% (3/9) benefitted; 33% (n = 1) significantly. Neither child with a chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia benefitted. In logistic regression modeling, medication overuse, age, sex, and sensory change in the distribution of the infiltrated nerve did not predict outcome. There were no serious side effects. Conclusions Greater occipital nerve injections benefitted 53% of pediatric patients with chronic primary headache disorders. Efficacy appeared greater in chronic migraine than NDPH. Given the benign side effect profile, a greater occipital nerve infiltration seems appropriate before more aggressive approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • NDPH
  • medication overuse headache
  • pediatric headache
  • pediatric migraine


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