Headache Treatments

Headache Treatments

Almost 30 million Americans suffer from migraines in the United States, with women having three times as many migraines as men. Migraines are pulsating headaches that often affect one side of the head. Symptoms can vary from person to person.  SIR now offers cutting edge treatment for migraine sufferers.

Warning signs of a migraine include:

  • Aura—flickering lights, spots or lines that typically last from five minutes to an hour, with a 60-minute “skip phase” before onset of the actual headache pain
  • Vertigo or double vision, referred to as a basilar-type migraine
  • Eye pain
  • Stuffy nose or water eyes
  • Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea or vomiting—often associated with more severe pain and more difficulty getting relief from medication than migraine sufferers who experience little or no nausea
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Muscular weakness on one side of the body (IMPORTANT: This could be the sign of a stroke, so consult your doctor.)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Frequent urination, also known as the prodromal phase of a migraine, which can arrive from an hour to as much as two days before the migraine starts
  • Food cravings, chocolate being a common one
  • Insomnia

Following the migraine, sufferers may experience “headache hangover” with such symptoms as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of energy.

Other chronic headache syndromes include:

  • Cluster headaches
  • Menstrual migraines
  • Ocular migraines
  • Sinus headaches
  • Tension headaches

Traditional Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Block

Invasive Treatment Done the Old Way

This procedure has been around for quite a while with good results. It requires that a long needle be placed through the side of the face all the way to the skull to inject medication to make the migraines go away and prevent them from coming back. The procedure works well but is invasive, and complications may occur if the needle inadvertently goes through an artery of the face.

Headache Treatments

Traditional Needle-directed Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block

Headache Treatments

SphenoCath Injection for Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block

Needle-directed Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Block

Noninvasive Treatment Done the New Way

Using state-of-the-art imaging guidance, SIR performs SPG Block using SphenoCath, a noninvasive procedure that is quick, successful, low-risk, and cost-effective. In this procedure, a small plastic catheter is used to place the medication directly on top of the sphenopalatine ganglion.

SphenoCath injection is performed without a needle and takes only minutes to perform. It is pain free for most patients, while some may briefly feel a slight nasal irritation. Many patients literally walk in with a headache and walk out without one!  Most often patients are headache free for three to four months. Those who repeat treatments every three to four months may never have a headache again.

SphenoCath injection is effective for all types of migraine headaches and for most types of headache pain, including pain from cluster headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, and atypical facial pain.

To see a video on SphenoCath injection, click here.

Occipital Nerve Block

Headache Treatments

An occipital nerve block is an injection of a steroid or other medication around the occipital nerves that are located on the back of the head just above the neck area. These nerves can be blocked (made numb) with the injection of medication so that head pain (touch, pain, temperature changes) is not conveyed to the brain.

This procedure helps some patients with migraines and cluster headaches, but also helps those with one-sided head pain (shooting, zapping, stinging, or burning pain) that occurs primarily on the back of the head. During the procedure, the patient’s scalp at the trunk of the occipital nerve is injected with local anesthetic and steroids, often relieving pain within minutes.

The occipital nerve block is performed with conscious sedation by SIR’s board-certified anesthesiologists. Conscious sedation is done with a combination of medicines (a sedative and an anesthetic) that help the patient relax and help to minimize pain and discomfort during the procedure. The patient is usually able to stay awake and respond to verbal cues but may not be able to speak. The patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, oxygen level and alertness are carefully monitoring during and after the procedure. Conscious sedation is safe and effective and allows patients to recover quickly.