Is Neurostimulation A Good Option For Eliminating Migraine Pain?

Migraine pain is often insufferable, and people who have to deal with these types of headaches search far and wide for treatments that will reduce the pain or rid them of it completely. One such remedy that may help is neurostimulation. Here's more information about this procedure to help you decide if it's right for you.

Neutralizing Pain Signals

Neurostimulation therapy is similar to using a pacemaker. Electrodes are installed either in (or on) the head or the spine. However, instead of stimulating the heart to beat correctly, the electrical device disrupts pain signals to the brain. Whenever the patient experiences migraine pain, he or she would trigger the device to prevent the signals from reaching the relevant part of the brain.

There are two types of neurostimulation devices: one with electrodes that sit on top of the skin and one that is installed just beneath the skin directly on top of the affected nerves. Both are fairly effective at inhibiting migraine pain. For instance, in one study, 26 percent of participants experienced a reduction in the number days they experienced headaches, and 75 percent reduced the amount of medication they were taking to manage migraine pain.

In another study, 53.4 percent were satisfied with the results provided by the machine. In both studies, patient compliance directly affected the outcome with people who stuck to the treatment plan experiencing the best results.

The primary benefit of neurostimulation therapy is that it has significantly fewer side effects than pain medication and other types of treatments. Another benefit is the device can be used for other types of chronic pain, particularly when implanted near the spinal cord. This can be good for people who suffer from multiple pain-related conditions, such as migraines and severe back pain. Lastly, this device appears to work in cases where other forms of treatment failed, so it can function as a last resort option for people who can't get pain relief using medication or other common remedies.

Some Problems May Develop

Like any medical procedure, some problems can develop with the use of neurostimulation devices. Although the electrical signal targets pain, it can disrupt other signals going to and from the brain, which may result in tingling, numbness, mild paralysis and similar issues. However, the electrical signal is typically low enough that this should not be a persistent problem.

If the device is installed underneath the skin, all the complications related to surgery still apply. For instance, you could develop an infection at the implant site. Thus, it's critical to follow the doctor's aftercare directions to prevent surgery-related problems from developing.

Lastly, there is a risk the body may get used to the electrical stimulation and stop responding as expected to the device. So, you may get a few years of migraine relief but then begin experiencing your normal levels of pain as the device become ineffective.

For more information about this and other surgical options available for treating migraine pain, contact a neurosurgeon like those at Neurosurgical Associates of San Antonio.