So what could possibly relate the popular 90’s TV sitcom Friends with a new migraine procedure? The connection may be a couple of degrees removed but it’s there, we promise! One of the major stars of the show was actress, Lisa Kudrow. It seems migraines and headaches chronically plagued her family. Lisa suffered with migraines growing up while her father, a headache specialist, battled his own cluster headaches. So when her dad together with her brother, a neurologist, conducted research and found that lidocaine proved to be a helpful migraine treatment, it was a family affair! Their story was reported several years ago on Health Central. The Kudrow research study was published during 1995 in the journal Headache.
Now to the tie-in with some recent research: A recent study yielding preliminary results (not yet published in a peer reviewed journal) out of the Albany Medical Center in New York, found that a simple lidocaine migraine procedure helped mitigate acute migraine symptoms. The procedure involved inserting a thin tube into the nasal cavity and delivering a dose of the anesthetic to a bundle of nerves called ‘sphenopalatine ganglion’ which are part of the trigeminal nerve and believed to play a role in headache pain. The 112 subjects in the study were either diagnosed with cluster type chronic headaches that occur in cycles, or a migraine condition. The study was reported on CBS News.
While the headache and migraine procedure proved to help 88 per cent of the subjects reduce their need for medication, it wasn’t successful for all of the patients. Another limitation was that the results were temporary and the treatment would have to recur in order to be effective. The Omega migraine procedure on the other hand, not only blocks pain signals with gentle electric pulses but is also a long lasting treatment. Migraine and chronic headache therapies that reduce the need for medication are beneficial because when patients depend on drugs, they can develop rebound headaches when stopping them.
According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), lidocaine therapy is usually most effective for acute headaches, in which the onset of pain is sudden and doesn’t last very long. This type of pain is characteristic of cluster type headaches. For people whose chronic headaches are migraine type, this therapy is not as effective since symptoms can last even longer than a day. The NHF notes that repeating lidocaine treatment periodically can lead to adverse side effects and issues related to mental confusion and abnormal heart rhythm. Lidocaine can be an effective intravenous treatment in cases where other abortive medication for a severe migraine would take too long to work. The researchers are continuing to observe their subjects over the next several months to determine the longer-term outcome from this nasal lidocaine migraine procedure.