Migrane headaches could be relieved through the use of a newly developed nerve treatment, delivered through a patient's nose.
Lidocaine, an anesthetic also known as Xylocaine, can be applied to nerves in the back of nasal cavities, utilizing the new technique. This procedure can reduce the pain of these powerful headaches by up to 35 percent for up to a month, new research reveals.
A new study examined the effectiveness of the treatment in 112 patients suffering from migraines and cluster headaches. Subjects in the program averaged 45 years old, and reported pain levels averaging 8.25 on a scale of one to 10, prior to treatment.
The sphenopalatine ganglion nerve center was treated with anesthetic through a catheter, roughly the size of a strand of spaghetti. Around 88 percent of patient were successfully treated with the procedure, and sedation was not required for application of the drug. After application, pain reports were reduced to an average of 4.10. After one month, the patients reported an average pain level of 5.25, just 64 percent of the baseline. Just 12 percent of the subjects were still using the same levels of painkillers as before application of the lidocaine.
"Unmet treatment needs in chronic migraine are huge, as is the overuse of medications. When a body gets used to having a chronic headache suppressor, the patient can experience a rebound in the absence of that suppressor. So developing an effective treatment that can reduce the need for acute medicine would be very valuable," Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center, said.
Further tests will examine the effect of the treatment on a larger group of subjects, and track them over a longer period of time.
Migraine headaches are felt as severe and extreme pains in one area of the head. The International Headache Society defines migraines as having pain levels of five or over on a 10-point scale, lasting between four and 72 hours without treatment. These symptoms can also be accompanied by sensitivities to light and sound, as well as nausea and vomiting.
"Migraine is three times more common in women than in men and affects more than 10 percent of people worldwide. Roughly one-third of affected individuals can predict the onset of a migraine because it is preceded by an 'aura,' visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zig-zag lines or a temporary loss of vision," the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported.
Development of the analysis of the study testing its effects, will be delivered at the 2015 annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology.
Photo: Brendan Wood | Flickr