Pulsating Pain in Neck: What to Do When You Have a Throbbing Pain in the Neck

There are some things in life that we expect to happen at some point, including occasional back pain, a broken bone, etc. However, there is one condition that may catch us off guard—throbbing neck pain.

Perhaps you have experienced this in the past, or maybe you are currently feeling this painful sensation. No doubt, you are probably curious about what this could be.

At Virgin Islands Neurology, we have helped many find out what is causing their throbbing neck pain and receive the relief they are looking for. If you would like to receive an accurate diagnosis, schedule an appointment at our U.S. Virgin Islands location today!

A woman in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a pulsating pain in the neck.

What Causes Throbbing Neck Pain?

The most common cause of throbbing pain in your neck is a condition called occipital neuralgia. While rare, throbbing neck pain may be the only symptom of a torn artery. Below you will find more detail that explains just what occipital neuralgia is.

What Is Occipital Neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves (the nerves that run from your spinal cord up through your scalp) are injured or inflamed. This can result in severe headaches and throbbing pain in your upper neck, back of your head, or behind your ears. 

It is common for people to confuse occipital neuralgia with a migraine because of the similarity of their symptoms. However, since these conditions require very different treatments, receiving an accurate diagnosis is essential.

A man being treated with physical therapy for throbbing neck pain.

What Causes Occipital Neuralgia?

Occipital neuralgia can be caused by pressure or irritation of your occipital nerves, whether from a head or neck injury, overly tight neck muscles, or a pinched nerve.

Throbbing Pain in Neck Treatment Options

The goal of occipital neuralgia treatment is to decrease your neck pain. There are non-surgical and surgical treatments that can help alleviate your pain.

Non-surgical treatment may include:

  • Massage therapy — This hands-on therapy is used to reduce tension in your neck muscles and break down scar tissue.
  • Nerve blocks — These can be used to diagnose and treat this condition.
  • Heat therapy
  • Botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections to reduce inflammation
  • Physical therapy — Physical therapists have many effective techniques that can be used to reduce neck tension. During your physical therapy sessions, your physical therapist will create a personalized therapy plan designed for your specific needs.

Additionally, your therapists may prescribe the following medications:

If your body does not respond to non-surgical treatments, your specialist may recommend surgical intervention. Surgical treatment for occipital neuralgia may include occipital nerve stimulation or spinal cord stimulation.

What Is the Outlook for Occipital Neuralgia Patients?

The outlook is good for those with occipital neuralgia. This condition isn’t life-threatening. So, with the proper treatment, the pain generally improves.

This pain normally goes away once your nerves heal. However, you may need to take medication or continue having a stretching routine to keep the pain away.

If you are seeking relief from the throbbing pain in your neck, you have come to the right place! Schedule an appointment at Virgin Islands Neurology today! Our team of neurologists in the U.S. Virgin Islands looks forward to giving you the assistance your desire!