Understanding How Surgery Can Help Stop Migraine Pain

woman suffering from migraine headache at workIf you suffer from migraines, then you know all too well how debilitating they can be. They can not only cause intense pain in the head and neck, but also cause nausea, dizziness, throbbing, sensitivity to light and sound, and difficulty concentrating. Some people even experience an aura before the migraine begins, which can cause a tingling or numbness sensation in the face or hands. But there is hope for those suffering from migraines. For some sufferers, nerve decompression surgery can provide relief so you can get back to living the life you want without experiencing debilitating pain.

Types of Migraine Headaches

Migraines can be divided into two categories: episodic migraines (occurring less than 15 days per month) and chronic migraines (occurring more than 15 days per month). Episodic migraines generally have milder symptoms than chronic ones; however, both kinds of migraines have the potential to disrupt daily life and bring about significant discomfort.

Migraines can occur at various trigger points, such as:

  • Forehead or frontal zone
  • One or both temples
  • Occipital or the back of the neck or head
  • Nasal around the eyes and nose

Surgical Treatment for Migraine Relief

When conservative migraine treatments such as medication do not provide relief from migraine pain or cause serious side effects, surgery may be an option to consider. Surgical treatments for migraine relief work by targeting nerves in the head and neck area that play a role in causing migraine pain.

Two of the most common types of surgeries for migraine relief are:

  • Supraorbital nerve block. A supraorbital nerve block works by numbing the nerves located on the forehead or near the eyes. This type of surgery is usually done with a local anesthetic, does not require hospitalization, and can be done in an outpatient setting. The surgeon will inject a numbing agent into the affected area, providing temporary relief from migraine headaches, usually lasting anywhere from several hours to several days.
  • Nerve decompression surgery. The second type of surgery used to treat migraines is nerve decompression surgery, also known as nerve release surgery. This procedure involves cutting or removing certain nerves in the head and neck that are believed to cause migraines. This type of surgery is more invasive than a supraorbital nerve block and requires general anesthesia, so it must be done in a hospital setting. Recovery time for this procedure can range from several weeks to several months, depending on how extensive the surgery was. 

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Migraine Surgery

Surgical treatments for migraines can provide much-needed relief when other treatments have failed, but they are not without risks or drawbacks. If you are considering surgery for your migraines, it's important to discuss all your options with your doctor before making a decision. Both types of surgeries have potential side effects such as infection, bleeding, scarring, or nerve damage, so it's important to talk with your doctor about all possible risks before deciding which treatment is right for you.

Here are some questions you should ask your doctor before agreeing to surgery:

  • What type of migraine surgery is right for me?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • Are there any risks or side effects associated with the procedure?
  • How long will it take to recover?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Is this type of surgery covered by my insurance?
  • What has been your success rate with migraine surgery?

For many individuals living with frequent or severe migraine headaches, surgery provides an opportunity for relief from their pain. However, it is important to research different types of surgeries available so that you can make an educated decision about what will work best for your specific needs.

In Maryland, Contact Dr. Eric Williams

If you think surgery could be a viable option for relieving your migraine symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams. He can determine if you will benefit from migraine surgery and can design a treatment plan to fit your specific needs. Find out more about migraine surgery by contacting our Baltimore office at (410) 709-3868 or by filling out our contact form online.