One Size Doesn’t Fit All Migraine Surgery

(c) Can Stock Photo

February 27, 2015

Do your friends act as if your chronic migraine pain puts a damper on everybody’s fun?  So, it’s no surprise they encourage you to try every trendy or zany migraine remedy.  If the latest medical tip includes the words ‘migraine surgery’ you may not want to ignore it like you did all the past advice (including cupping and leach therapy).   Not all migraine procedures and surgeries are the same.  While your friend may not really understand what is involved with surgical options for migraine pain, there are in fact several types of procedures that fall under this broad category.

According to Wikipedia, available migraine surgery techniques include:

  1. Vascular or arterial surgery—The theory that certain scalp arteries are involved with causing migraines is the basis for this treatment.  Patients, who are believed to benefit from the procedure, will be those who feel better when pressure is applied to the head; when taking vasoconstrictors like triptans or ergots; or when drinking coffee.
  2. Patent foramen ovale closure—This is a type of corrective heart surgery, to address a hole between two chambers in the heart (a condition found to a higher proportion among certain migraine sufferers than among the general population.)
  3. Decompression surgery—The concept behind this procedure is that migraines are triggered by structural impingement on certain nerves in the head.  This requires identifying which of 4 trigger points (forehead, temples, base of the head, nose) is involved and cutting the nerves which are compressed by muscle or other structure.  Initially Botox injections are administered to determine whether the permanent procedure is likely to be helpful.
  4. Implanting a stimulation device—This neurostimulation treatment, which applies gentle stimulation to occipital and supraorbital nerves (involved with transmitting pain signals during a migraine event), effectively blocks potential pain signals from reaching the brain.

One way to categorize these treatments is to understand that the first three migraine surgery procedures permanently alter the body.  However, an implantable neurostimulation treatment like the Omega migraine procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that is reversible and doesn’t result in cutting or removing any nerves or muscle tissue.  If it turns out that you qualify for and undergo this treatment, you just might be grateful to your pushy friends who encouraged you to learn more about your migraine treatment options!



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