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Nerve stimulation for cluster headaches

Posted Mar 25 2010 11:59am

Occipital nerve stimulation has been under investigation for the treatment of difficult to treat migraine headaches for the past several years with promising results.  A recent study at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ suggests that this treatment may also help relieve chronic cluster headaches.  It is less surprising that the occipital nerve stimulation works for cluster headaches than for migraines.  It is not unusual for cluster headache patients to complain of pain not only in the eye, but also in the back of the head on the same side.  Also, occipital nerve block with steroids has been shown to abort an episode of episodic cluster headaches and is widely used by headache specialists.  In chronic cluster patients this block may provide temporary relief and these patients may be good candidates for an occipital nerve stimulation.  The stimulator is usually implanted by a neurosurgeon in an out-patient procedure.  The wire electrode and the battery are embedded under the skin.  Another miniature stimulator which has been in development contains both the electrode and the battery in a very small capsule-size device.  This miniature stimulator is much easier to implant and it is less bothersome.          

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