Are considering getting occipital nerve stimulation for migraines, also known as a neuro-stim procedure? If so, it’s important to know who qualifies for the surgery, and what your odds are of finding ultimate relief from migraine headaches.
Neuro-stim procedure basics
If you get chronic headaches, including migraine, then you may be a candidate for an occipital nerve implant, a procedure which involves inserting two electrical components- one by your skull, and one by your chest- which apparently “zap” migraine headaches into nonexistence.
- To begin, wires are surgically implanted on the head, just beneath the skin.
- A small electronic device, a receiver, is embedded at the base of the skull, close to the occipital nerve.
- A “battery” is also implanted, usually near the collarbone or abdominal area. This is the power source, and it is connected through wires to the receiver at the base of the skull.
- The power source sends electrical impulses to the receiver, stimulating the occipital nerve.
- Occasionally, return visits are required for revisions.
Does it work?
Because this is a relatively new procedure, and few migraine sufferers elect for this surgery, there are limited long-term patient results available for review.
However, in a study on neuro-stim procedures for migraine, researchers noted favorable results.
About 40% of migraine patients who opted for adjustable stimulation saw a vast improvement in migraine symptoms, while 6% of those who received preset stimulation experienced a reduction in migraine headaches.
An episode of The Doctors, which aired January 2012, interviewed Dr. Reed, who commented about his trademarked Reed Procedure for migraines.
“It’s not for everybody,” Dr. Reed says. “Most people don’t need it. It’s for people who have very severe migraine headaches- frequent, several times a week- that are not responding to other more conservative treatments.
Rachel, a migraine patient of Dr. Reed, can be observed getting her neuro-stim procedure in the Doctors episode, which may be viewed here.
When asked how she felt, mere days after the migraine procedure, she had this to say,
“My headache is basically gone…it’s amazing.”
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