A team of radiologists reported having found a procedure that significantly alleviates the pain associated with migraines by spraying an aesthetic on the nerves located inside the patient’s nasal cavity.
According to the team, lidocaine (Xylocaine), a local anesthetic agent, can reduce the pain levels of a migraine episode by 35 percent after only one treatment session for nearly a month following the procedure.
Also, study authors underlined that the method was “a minimally invasive treatment option,” while it could be a clear simple alternative to the modern-day first-line migraine treatments such as Imitrex, Botox and antidepressants.
“This nasal spray option is safe, convenient and innovative,”
said Dr. Kenneth Mandato, co-author of the finding and radiologist at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York.
During their clinical study, researchers assessed the pain levels and migraine symptoms of 112 patients who were affected by either cluster headaches, which are very painful, recurrent head aches located usually around the eye, or migraines. The average age of the group was 45.
Before the procedure, patients were asked to asses the pain levels on a scale from 1 to ten. The majority reported experiencing pains above eight before the treatment.
During the study, researchers inserted into the nasal passage of each study participant a small catheter which delivered a dose of anesthetic to the Meckel’s ganglion, a cluster of nerves located at the back of the nasal cavity and associated with the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve involved in headaches and migraines. The treatment involved both nostrils and their sets of nerves.
Dr. Mandato noted that none of the patients needed sedation before the medical procedure. He also said that the Meckel’s ganglion was similar to a “complex highway” which involved crossing with many nerve signals, while having exits in all directions. Lidocaine seemingly short-circuits this neural highway’s pathway associated with recurrent headaches or migraines.
Only one day after the treatment, study participants reported that their pain levels dropped to an average of four. Also, the pain levels remained constant over one month, after which patients scored five on the pain scale.
However, the treatment doesn’t have a 100 percent efficacy since nearly 6 percent of participants reported no improvement in their health condition. But 88 percent said that they used less pain relief drugs after the lidocaine procedure. Currently, the team surveys the study participants to see whether their nasal spray-based procedure lasts up to six months.
Image Source: Gizmag
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