Surgery for Migraine and Headache: Does it Work?

Nerve stimulation, nasal surgery/septum repair, cutting muscles in the forehead and PFO closure are the surgeries commonly mentioned as headache treatments. A lot of press coverage doesn’t necessarily equal efficacy. They are all still in early phases of clinical trials. Recent opinions I’ve come across aren’t encouraging.

I’ve had two of the four — an occipital nerve stimulator and nasal surgery — and don’t intend to try a surgical treatment again. Neither surgery was effective for me and I sometimes wonder if the nerve stimulator made my migraines worse.

Surgery is so commonplace that it is normal to consider it as a remedy for so many illnesses. No matter that general anesthesia is always risky and there’s a potential for complications — including that it may worsen the condition. Not to mention that its expensive and invasive and may not even work.

I’m not saying that because my surgeries were unsuccessful yours will be too. I do caution you to take it slowly. Research the procedure as much as you possibly can. Ask your doctor every question that you have, no matter how silly or small it may seem. This is your body. The doctor may have the expertise, but you are the only one who really knows yourself.

If you have the slightest inkling of discomfort with your doctor, find someone else. If he or she tells you in your first appointment that surgery is just the thing for you, find someone else.

Although surgery may feel like your last hope, it rarely is. Few people have truly tried everything. If multiple doctors say you’ve tried everything, it’s time to get on the internet and learn what else is out there. Online forums are a great place to start. (I’m partial to The Daily Headache’s online support group and forum, but there are lots of good ones.) Maybe you’ll discover that you have tried everything; maybe you’ll find a not-so-well-known treatment works for you.

Welcome to The Daily Headache’s New Design

If you’re reading this post, you’ve found The Daily Headache’s new design! The site looks different, but the biggest change is the addition of an online support group and forum. Make sure to create your account and introduce yourself.

The Daily Headache’s New Design and Online Support Group and Forum Launch Tonight!

Starting tonight, you’ll see The Daily Headache’s new design — and our online support group and forum will open! We’re aiming for a smooth transition, but there may be some glitches in the next 24 hours. You might get a mix of the new and old designs as you navigate around, so please hang in there.

Help get the online support group and forum off to a great start by starting a thread or responding to others. The content is only as good as we all make it.

Headache NewsBlog By Headache Specialist Alexander Mauskop

Alexander Mauskop, director of the New York Headache Center, regularly posts his thoughts on current headache news on the aptly named Headache NewsBlog. He dispels myths and examines closely media coverage of headache news. Here’s a taste of Mauskop’s blog, but look over Headache NewsBlog to get the full flavor.

Current News



Mayo Clinic on Depression

Depression is the focus of the latest Housecall, Mayo Clinic’s e-mail newsletter. The excellent information includes:

Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light therapy box
If you have seasonal affective disorder, don’t spend a lot of money on a light box until you learn what features to look for.

Treatment-resistant depression: Explore options when depression won’t go away
It feels like you’ve tried everything, but the depression continues.
Explore the reasons and treatment options you may not have considered.

Vagus nerve stimulation: A new depression treatment option
Sometimes traditional depression treatment doesn’t work well enough.
Find out how this type of brain stimulation works and understand its
pros and cons.

Also, Mayo’s depression section is a resource that everyone with depression must check out.

Must-Read Time Article on Headache

A 2002 Time cover article on headache describes current migraine research — and the heretofore lack of said research — and what it means for people with headache. As the article says, “What [the research] all adds up is a revolutionary view of extreme headaches that treats them as serious, biologically based disorders on a par with epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.”

It’s a hopeful piece that shares the fascinating biology of headache as well as what headache sufferers actually go through. Although the article is three years old, it’s a step toward educating others that Tylenol doesn’t trounce migraines, chronic daily headaches and cluster headaches.

Now articles need to use this quote from the book Migraine and Other Headaches:

“In general, headache sufferers are worse off than people who have arthritis, roughly similar to those who have congestive heart failure severe enough to interfere with walking up and down stairs and only slightly better than people with AIDS.” (from All in My Head, by Paula Kamen, page 282)

The Time article is a must-read for people with headache and their loved ones. And it includes an awesome graphic of the path of a headache (you’ll find it under the graphics section of the sidebar).

Sort of on Vacation

I’m going on vacation tomorrow, but will still be posting each weekday. I’ll read and respond to e-mail and comments once a week, otherwise you won’t notice a difference. I’ll be back full time on October 8. See you then!