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New Study Shows SPG Block Effective for Migraine Relief

Research from the Society of Interventional Radiology found that an SPG, or sphenopalatine ganglion, block significantly decreases headache pain scores in children who suffer from migraines. More than 300 treatments were conducted on 200 patients who ranged in age from 7 to 18 at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Using a 10-point scale to record pain, researchers found that after the SPG block was performed, pain scores were lowered by more than two points on average.

According to the National Headache Foundation, another study using an SPG block for migraines and cluster headaches saw patients' reported pain scores decrease by over four points on average using the same 10-point pain scale, with the average patient going from an 8.25 to a 4.1 by the next day. When a 30-day follow-up was assessed, those patients still reported reduced pain scores with the average score at 5.25.

SPG Block Doesn’t Use Needle to Treat Migraine Pain

The best part of an SPG block for many patients is that it doesn’t involve a needle, according to David Buck, DDS, who performs SPG blocks at his practice in Lynwood, Washington.

"Using a soft, flexible catheter, anesthetic is applied to the cluster of nerves at the back of the nose, which causes immediate pain relief for most patients," he said. "It works because this area directly affects the trigeminal central sensory nucleus in the brain, which studies have found is the key to migraines."

Buck said the treatment only takes a few minutes and lasts up to three months, which helps migraine sufferers avoid medications and enjoy relief for longer periods of time.

Migraines Are a Common Problem with Few Solutions 

According to the American Migraine Study II conducted for the National Headache Foundation, more than 37 million Americans suffer form migraines. During a migraine 91 percent of participants in the study reported they cannot function normally or go to work.

Migraines often start with pain around the eyes and temples. Sometimes migraine medications can stop it as this stage, but not always. After the first stage of a migraine it is nearly impossible to stop the episode with medications. For some migraine sufferers, this pain can go on for hours and even days.

During a migraine many people report throbbing pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes even vomiting. Even once the migraine has passed, symptoms such as an inability to eat, fatigue and trouble focusing can occur.

Attempting to prevent migraines by getting to know your triggers is important, Buck said.

"For some patients, migraines are triggered by certain foods, consuming alcohol, stress, dehydration, sleep disturbances or hormonal changes, among other things," he said. "Paying close attention to what you were doing before you got a migraine can be really helpful in decreasing the number of migraines you get in the future."


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