Migraine surgery remains a controversial procedure to treat migraines. Although advocates push its potential benefits, the studies demonstrating these benefits have been questioned, and the cost, side effects, and other drawbacks have been shown to be significant.
Now a new study is demonstrating the potential functional benefits of migraine surgery, lending additional support. Considering the potential benefits and drawbacks, trigger point injections or TMJ treatment may be better treatments to try first before risking migraines.
Amazing Functional Improvement for Patients
This study looked at 74 patients who had migraine surgery from 2013 to 2015, and who also filled out two questionnaires about their migraines before and at least one year after surgery.
The first questionnaire is the PSEQ or Pain Self Efficiency Questionnaire, which is designed to show how much a person’s pain impacts their day-to-day functioning. The second questionnaire used is the Migraine Headache Inventory (MHI), which is designed to measure the intensity of migraines.
It is notable that before surgery, these patients reported much lower functional scores than is common for patients who have other types of chronic pain.
However, the improvement following surgery was remarkable. People improved their PSEQ scores an average of 112 %, which is dramatically more than many other treatment types. One example is lower back pain, for which patients report about 19% improvement following nonsurgical treatment.
The treatment even seemed to be effective for patients who had very low initial PSEQ scores, which predict low treatment success for most other types of chronic pain treatments.
Researchers says that this data shows that there are potentials for great success for appropriately selected patients.
Limitations and Drawbacks of Migraine Surgery
Although this study shows some promising results for migraine surgery, it does little to dispel the concerns many have about the limitations and drawbacks of the procedure. One of the biggest limitations is that it only works in a very small subset of people with particular anatomical triggers for their migraines. This includes nerves that are entrapped by particular nerves, often in the brow.
The procedure also comes with many drawbacks. First, there are the risks that come with any surgery. The press releases for this study don’t talk about side effects or complications. But previous reports on their side effects report typical complications for surgery, including potential for infections, scarring, persistent numbness, and itching at the surgical site. Another drawback is the cost, which may be upwards of $15,000 for the surgery. The surgery is also irreversible, whether it’s successful or not.
If you are considering migraine surgery, it’s a good idea to consider nonsurgical alternatives that might address the same migraine triggers. First, trigger point injections can be used as a long-term treatment option that addresses the same trigger points without surgery. It’s a comfortable, convenient, effective, and inexpensive approach to achieving migraine relief.
TMJ treatment is also an option for treating migraines without surgery that many people haven’t explored. The nerves addressed by these migraine surgeries are all branches of the trigeminal nerve, which is primarily dedicated to controlling the chewing muscles and receiving pain signals from them and the facial skin above them. TMJ treatment with a bite splint can relax the chewing muscles to reduce the overload that can occur in the trigeminal nerve, triggering migraines. These are both reversible treatments that don’t have permanent side effects or complications.
If you would like to consider these nonsurgical migraine treatments in Denver before getting migraine surgery, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist, at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado.