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Can Getting Neck Surgery Help Alleviate Your Migraines?

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jul 25, 2014 7:00:00 AM

Despite years of research and clinical trials dedicated to the study and potential treatment of migraines, many questions remain unanswered about this painful condition. Certain new treatments such as periodic Botox® injection therapy, supraorbital nerve decompression and even transcranial magnetic stimulation seem very promising; alas, medical specialists admit that a complete cure for migraines is not yet in sight.

Medical research into the migraine condition has been an interdisciplinary effort. At one point, migraines were thought to be part of a vascular disease; that view has evolved over the last few decades to include causes related to neurology and brain chemistry. For this reason, researchers are paying close attention to how some surgical procedures can bring relief to migraine patients.

Just like a cosmetic surgery procedure led to the development of supraorbital nerve decompression, migraine specialists have taken notice of how patients who undergo a couple of neck surgeries are reporting a substantial improvement in terms of their headache conditions.

Arthroplasty and Arthodesis

In August 2009, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery published the results of a survey conducted among 1,004 patients who had undergone one of two procedures to correct cervical spine disease. The characteristics of the study subjects are as follows:
  • More than 85 percent of patients reported headaches
  • A little over half of the patients were males
  • More than half of the patients reported severe headaches

The patients received either arthroplasty, which is a replacement of the cervical disc, or arthodesis, which is essentially a procedure that fuses the spine. In the two years following these surgical procedures, nearly 35 percent of the patients reported that they no longer suffered from headaches and migraines.

Migraines and Spinal Conditions

It is important to note that the study mentioned above did not include migraines. Patients who suffer from herniated cervical disease or other spinal conditions often report headaches in addition to the neurological pain that is expected in this situation. Researchers have looked into these headaches, which are mostly reported by patients whose cervical injuries or deformities are located on the C1-C3 vertebrae, and they have determined that such conditions do not develop into migraine conditions.

The nerve clusters located near the neck vertebrae and the cervical discs can emit pain signals that often travel upwards towards the cranium and the face. For this reason, patients with herniated discs and similar conditions will likely report tension and cluster headaches that are accompanied by symptoms reminiscent of migraines. Most of the time, however, they are not migraines.

It is reasonable to understand why patients who receive cervical surgery report significant relief from headaches. Migraine patients who also suffer from herniated discs will likely experience episodes triggered from their injuries, but their condition will not go away when they receive corrective surgery; only that specific trigger that exacerbates their condition will be corrected.

*Image courtesy of

patient guide to surgery

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Topics: Treatment

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