Disks are rubbery cushions between the bones in the spine (vertebrae) that absorb shock when you walk or run.

A herniated disk is a common back and neck problem in which the tough outer layer of cartilage (which cushions and protects joints) cracks and some of the soft jelly-like cartilage in the center of the disk slips out. It’s also called a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk and is most common in the lower back.

A bulging disc is caused when the cartilage moves out of it’s normal position in the spine, but does not rupture.

Both herniated discs and bulging discs are caused by normal wear and tear on the spine. Sometimes, lifting heavy things the wrong way or twisting and turning while lifting something can cause a herniated disk. In rare cases, a herniated disk can be caused by a fall or getting hit on the back.

Sometimes, the herniated disk irritates surrounding nerves, resulting in pain and other symptoms, however not all herniated disks are painful. Bulging disks are not usually painful unless the disk presses against a nearby nerve.

Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia

A common symptom of occipital neuralgia is intense, sharp pain in the back of the head and neck. The pain may be infrequent and last only a few seconds to a few minutes.

Other symptoms are:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tender scalp
  • Pain when you move your neck