Neurostimulation for Migraines
Americans miss almost 113 million days of work each year due to migraine attacks. For those actively seeking treatment, prescription drugs, injections and other invasive methods only add to the stress and misery of the condition. With no known cause, migraneurs are often forced to travel a long and winding road with endless challenges before maybe stumbling upon a treatment that offers some degree of reprieve. But as migraine awareness improves, so do options for care.
New technology and research has revealed a revolutionary treatment option with promising results that don’t include the side effects of numbing medications. This method, known as neurostimulation has helped to reduce or eliminate symptoms in over 80% of patients where other forms of treatment have failed.
What is Neurostimulation Therapy?
Neurostimulation for migraines involves a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses light electrical currents to incite the nerves associated with delivering pain signals to the brain. The procedure involves four parts:
1. Neurostimulator – a device that generates the electrical currents or pulses.
2. Leads – tiny bundles of wire that deliver the pulses to targeted nerves.
3. Controller – for patients to turn treatment on or off and adjust stimulation levels.
4. Programmer – for physicians to adjust and refine stimulation programs.
For migraine relief, these leads are placed beneath the skin near the occipital nerves using a very minimal surgical procedure. The actual neurostimulator device is also implanted, often in the upper chest, similar to a pace maker placement, or upper buttock area. A programmer, under physician supervision, will program the device to cater to the patient’s specific needs and patients can turn the device on or off and control intensity levels using their own remote.
How does neurostimulation work?
The occipital and supraorbital nerves are believed to be major conductors of pain signals between the brain and body. Neurostimulation therapy provokes the nerves in this region using light electrode pulses to block pain signals that want to communicate with the brain. This significantly or completely dissolves the experience of pain and replaces it with a tingling sensation.
Am I a Candidate for Neurostimulation?
Individuals who qualify for neurostimulation for migraines fit the following profile:
- Have been clinically diagnosed with chronic migraine syndrome or possess a strong belief that migraines are chronic (lasting more than 4 hours at a time and occurring at least 15 days per month).
- Have been to the emergency room for migraine pain.
- Have tried daily over the counter or prescription migraine medication with little or no improvement.
- Have tried other forms of therapy like injections, chiropractic therapy or acupuncture with little or no improvement.
- Are considering alternative treatments, like surgical intervention.