Why Stimulate the Occipital Nerve?
News reports have lauded trigeminal, peripheral and supraorbital nerve stimulation, but there hasn’t been much coverage of occipital nerve stimulation. This isn’t an endorsement of one type over another, but I talk about ONS because that’s what I have. When I have a grasp on the other options, I’ll write about them.
The occipital nerve is targeted because it is a sort of gatekeeper that refers migraine pain to other nerves. Dr. David Dodick of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale explains, “The occipital and trigeminal nerves converge. These nerves connect with all of the pain-sensitive structures in the skull. [S]timulating the occipital nerve inhibits activity in the trigeminal nerve.” (This quote is from an an article that was on OUCH‘s old website, which is no longer available. Even though the article focuses on occipital stimulation for cluster headaches, the information applies to migraines.)
From what I’ve learned – and what the quote from Dr. Dodick above indicates, it appears that the occipital nerve connects to all other nerves, therefore is the widest-reaching option. I’m by no means a definitive source on this. At the very least, if you’re considering nerve stimulation, it’s a good idea to research all the possible types and work with your doctor to determine the best for your pain.