For migraine relief, stimulating both the occipital and supraorbital nerves provides greater relief, instead of only stimulating the occipital nerve, a new study shows. Shannon Wang Hann, MD, a neurosurgeon at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said that 14 of 20 patients report greater than 50 percent relief of their pain.
“I believe that the dual stimulation of the occipital and supraorbital nerve has good results for treating chronic primary headache,” said Dr. Hann. “We need to improve our surgical techniques to reduce the complication rate.”
In previous studies, only about a third of patients reported a 50 percent reduction of pain, so Wang and colleagues decided to stimulate the supraorbital nerve as well. At baseline, the 20 participants had an average pain score of 6.3, rising to 8.7 during acute attacks and symptoms lasting for an average of 6.3 years.
An average of 34 months later, at follow up 14 of the patients reported better than 50% improvement, including 9 patients who reported greater than 80% improvement. Pain scores decreased to 3.4 and 5.2 during acute attacks. Of the 20, six patients reported less than 50% improvement. “Patients with facial pain did not respond,” said Dr. Hann. “In fact, they developed allodynia at the insertion point and had to have the stimulator removed.”
The researchers were gradually developing their technique with the hopes to decrease these complications.