Migraine symptoms can include sensitivity to light, severe pain from the neck up through the head, blurred vision, and even nausea and vomiting for some sufferers. For those who deal with these horrendous attacks, it can be virtually impossible to function normally without medication or, at the very least, the ability to lie down in a dark, silent room for a while. But now, a new treatment is available that may help chronic migraines, and it’s getting some attention this week on the web.
The treatment involves administering lidocaine–a common local anaesthetic often used for minor surgery and in dental offices–via the nose, which affects certain nerves. While it’s not proven to be a cure for everyone, researchers are pleased with the results they’ve had so far.
“Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guide, targeted, breakthrough treatments. They offer a patient-centered therapy that has the potential to break the migraine cycle and quickly improve patients’ quality of life,” researcher Kenneth Mandato said.
The up side to this treatment is that it is minimally invasive and cost-effective as opposed to most prescription migraine medicines. As most sufferers will tell you, over-the-counter meds often don’t do the job when a migraine is in its prime.
“Administration of lidocaine to the sphenopalatine ganglion acts as a ‘reset button’ for the brain’s migraine circuitry,” said Mandato. “When the initial numbing of the lidocaine wears off, the migraine trigger seems to no longer have the maximum effect that it once did. Some patients have reported immediate relief and are making fewer trips to the hospital for emergency headache medicine.”
Of course, nothing works the same on everyone, and researchers have spent a lot of time trying to find alternatives to medicine for those who deal with these debilitating headaches on a regular basis. Surprisingly, exercise–particularly on a stationary bike–is said to be an option for relief because it’s low-impact.
“When we exercise, a lot of the time we feel better afterwards. We get all kinds of neurotransmitters going in our brain that can decrease pain levels,” said Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, the head of Boston’s Headache Center.