When is Surgery an Option to Treat Headaches?

When is Surgery an Option to Treat Headaches?

While most people with headache and migraine use medications and lifestyle changes to help with their headaches, there is a small group of people with very specific headaches that may benefit from surgery.

Surgery is generally considered to be an option for people who don’t improve with medications and have specific types of headaches. Some procedures have been studied more than others, and some procedures are still being studied to better understand their benefits. It is best to speak to your doctor about whether surgery might be beneficial for you.

The most common type of surgery involves implantation of a device that stimulates a nerve in the head or face that is causing the headaches.

  1. Occipital nerve stimulation – people with occipital neuralgia (a painful disorder where the nerves on the back of the skull are irritated and cause pain that radiates to the forehead) may benefit from implanting stimulators around the nerve which can reduce or remove the painful signals coming from the nerve.
  2. Vagus nerve stimulation – there is a nerve in the neck that can sometimes be stimulated for people with migraines and cluster headaches which don’t respond to medications.
  3. Deep brain stimulation – this is a rare treatment for people with chronic refractory cluster headaches

Less common surgeries involve taking pressure off a nerve in the head or face or other more invasive surgeries.

If you would like to speak with a board-certified neurologist about your treatment options, including the surgery, join Neura Heath today!

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Sumeet Vadera, MD, MBA, FAANS
Sumeet Vadera is an Associate Professor, Director of Epilepsy Surgery, and Associate Program Director of the Neurosurgery Department at University of California, Irvine
About the Author
Dr. Sumeet Vadera is a neurosurgeon and epilepsy surgery specialist in Orange County, CA. Dr. Vadera completed his medical school training at Jefferson Medical College, and neurosurgery residency and epilepsy surgery training at the Cleveland Clinic where he developed a passion for treating pain disorders including headache. Dr. Vadera has been named Top Doctor in Orange County and 40 Under 40 in Orange County, CA.

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