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20-year-old with occipital neuralgia and disc problems

My daughter, age 20, has been having headaches for over a year, and we have been chasing a diagnosis. I finally took her to Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix, and they diagnosed her with occipital neuralgia. This makes sense because her headaches are always in the back of her head, are made better with ice packs and applying pressure to the back of her head, and she responded amazingly well to injections given under ultrasound to the nerves in the back of her head given by her pain management doctor. That pain management doctor has her on Percocet and Gabapentin and Indomethacin, but nothing stops her headaches other than injections (which don't last long). He referred her to an interventional radiologist who wants to try P.Stim with her and then, if that doesn't work, a cervical rhizotomy. He said he cannot ethically do implant a stimulator in someone so young.

The interventional radiologist also sent her for a cervical mri. This, surprisingly to me, showed degenerative disc disease with disc bulging and moderate neural foraminal narrowing.

My questions are:
1. If she does have to have a rhizotomy, will she have to shave her head? She has gorgeous long brown hair, and this will really be traumatic for her (but she'd do it to get rid of the headaches).
2. Can the disc problems be the cause of occipital neuralgia?

Any input anyone has would be helpful.


  • Disk problems can be the cause of many things. By no means am I a doctor or an expert of any kind, but it might be worth a follow up with an orthopedic or neurological specialist. As for the rhizotomy, mine was on my lumbar spine so I can't help you with that one.

    Single level L5/S1 360 fusion with 6 screws and a rod (10/29/12)
    Diagnosis: Grade 1-2 spondylolithesis, Pars Defect, L5/S1 disc tear anterior and posterior, DDD, spinal stenosis
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