Nerve Surgery May Help Some Battling Severe Migraine | Health

Key Takeaways

  • Nerve decompression surgery can help relieve migraine symptoms

  • The surgery is associated with fewer headache days per month

  • The procedure also decreases the frequency, intensity and duration of migraine attacks

MONDAY, June 3, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Nerve surgery can reduce the number of headache days for people who suffer frequent migraines, a new review finds.

The procedure also can decrease the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks, according to results published in the June issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

“Our study adds new evidence that headache surgery improves both sets of measures, providing a more comprehensive assessment of the results of headache surgery,” said researcher Dr. Jeffrey Janis, a professor of plastic surgery, surgery, neurosurgery and neurology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Migraine surgery seeks to relieve nerve compression at trigger sites in the head and neck, researchers explained. This pressure is thought to contribute to headaches.

Neurologists assessing migraine treatments tend to focus on whether they reduce the number of days a person has a headache, Janis said.

On the other hand, plastic surgeons performing headache surgery typically use an index that evaluates the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines, Janis added.

“This discrepancy is one reason why some headache specialists have been slow to recognize the growing body of evidence showing the effectiveness of headache surgery,” Janis noted in a journal news release.

For this review, researchers decided to consider both ways of assessing the effectiveness of migraine surgery, so that both groups of professionals could find common ground regarding the procedure.

The researchers reviewed 19 studies of headache surgery between 2005 and 2020 involving more than 1,600 patients.

Patients suffered an average 14 fewer headache days per month following migraine surgery, researchers found.

Further, total migraine attacks decreased by nearly nine days per month. The surgery also reduced migraine intensity and duration, with no major complications.

The study “demonstrates the efficacy of headache surgery on the outcomes used in both the [plastic surgery] and neurology literature,” the researchers concluded.

“We hope our study will help to foster common communication between plastic surgeons and neurologists in assessing the effects of headache surgery for patients with chronic headache pain,” Janis said. “Future studies of headache surgery should routinely include data on monthly migraine days, in order to better compare the outcomes of surgical and medical treatments.”

More information

Mount Sinai Health System has more on migraine surgery.

SOURCE: Wolters Kluwer Health, news release, May 30, 2024

What This Means For You

People who suffer frequent migraines should talk with their doctor about whether headache surgery could help them.

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