How Does Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Work to Treat Migraines

Jan 11, 2024
How Does Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Work to Treat Migraines

According to the American Migraine Foundation, somewhere just under 150 million people in the world have chronic migraines. Perhaps more surprising is that medication isn’t especially helpful. Oral preventive medications reduce the frequency of migraines in around 40% of people who take them, and more than 80% of people stop taking the medications within a year of starting them. 

The practitioners at Pain Consultants of Atlanta are dedicated to helping our patients live pain-free, including those who experience migraine headaches. When conventional approaches such as preventive oral medications fail, we seek pain management methods that work for each patient. For those living with chronic migraine, peripheral nerve stimulation may provide a path to living with less pain. 

Migraine facts

Here are a few facts about migraine that you may not know: 

  • More women than men are affected; 70% of migraine sufferers are women
  • Over 42 million Americans have migraine
  • Most people experience their first migraine in their 20s
  • Roughly half of people with chronic migraine require emergency care at some point
  • Migraine affects everyone differently, making treatment challenging

People with migraines miss more work and school than others, and the estimated cost of that lost productivity is more than $30 billion per year. Finding effective treatment allows people who have chronic migraine to live active, fulfilling lives without feeling like they are missing professional and social opportunities and essential occasions.

Patients who don’t find relief through conventional preventive medications may be good candidates for peripheral nerve stimulation.

Peripheral nerve stimulation basics

Peripheral nerve stimulation is a method of treating chronic pain for numerous conditions along with migraine. For example, at Pain Consultants of Atlanta, our practitioners have used it to effectively treat pain due to complex regional pain syndrome, hip pain, ankle and foot pain, back pain, and other conditions. 

This innovative treatment works by disrupting nerve signals that cause pain using mild electrical impulses. Specifically, peripheral nerve stimulation targets peripheral nerves rather than spinal cord nerves. Peripheral nerve stimulation is minimally invasive and considered safe. 

To get pain relief with peripheral nerve stimulation, you have a small pulse generator implanted. The device delivers electrical impulses when your nerves attempt to generate pain signals, disrupting the signal. You’re likelier to feel a mild tingling or nothing instead of pain. 

Generally speaking, peripheral nerve stimulation works better for pain isolated to one area of your body, like your head. Spinal cord stimulation is usually better when pain radiates or moves to different parts of your body. 

Tailored care

For migraine pain, the device is usually placed near one of several different nerves, including the occipital nerve, the transcutaneous supraorbital nerve, or others. Our providers work to ensure that your treatment is precisely targeted to be effective for your condition. 

In many cases, peripheral nerve stimulation is one of multiple approaches to reducing your pain. If you’d like to learn more about this treatment and find out if you may be a good candidate for treatment with peripheral nerve stimulation, schedule an appointment at the Pain Consultants of Atlanta that is most convenient for you.