Published March 11, 2017, Authored by Dr. Adam Lowenstein

I recently saw a post on our FaceBook page that disparaged migraine surgery because all migraines could be cured by a diet with some catchy name. While it never feels great to have my hard work attacked by someone who doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of what I do, I decided not to hide the comment and instead try to use it as a stepping stone for education.

Migraine headaches can come from many sources, or “etiologies” in medical terms. There are some people who actually do have severe headaches as a result of a food intolerance, and for that subset of patients, a dietary approach such as the one I reference above can be “curative”. When the dietary trigger is removed, the reactions to that trigger should disappear, including any migraines associated with this food reaction.

imagesOther patients, for example, may have migraines caused by a previous whiplash injury. Some of these patients have scarring and tight neck muscles around the occipital nerves that compress these nerves, and diet is unlikely to help migraines caused by nerve compression. These patients are likely surgical candidates, though they may also find improvement with myofascial release or chiropractic.

Still other patients may have migraines stemming from stress in their lives. Stress causes tight muscles to compress the nerves causing their headaches and a change in diet is not likely to help. These patients may benefit, however, from yoga and chiropractic maneuvers, or surgery if the conservative treatments are unsuccessful.

imgresSome patients have reported that a daith piercing has helped with their migraine symptoms- and that’s fantastic! There may be some nerve feedback here that helps a certain population of migraine patients find relief. Others have found that acupuncture has helped, likely by the same mechanism.

The point I’m trying to make here is that there are many different things that can help many different patients find migraine relief. Nerve decompression surgery is not a panacea that can cure everyone of their pain. But for migraine headache patients and occipital neuralgia patients that have tried these other non-surgical options without success, migraine surgery may be an excellent option for persistent pain relief.

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