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Peripheral Nerve Stimulation for Chronic Headache Relief: What to Expect

Estimates show that approximately 46% of the population experiences headaches. This may not seem like a huge problem, but they’re in the top 10 of the most disabling conditions worldwide. On top of that, they’re the fourth or fifth most common reason for emergency room visits in the United States alone.

Unfortunately, there are several types of headaches, and they can be incredibly complicated to treat. In fact, overusing the medications used to treat this condition can even lead to more frequent headaches. So, how can you find relief from chronic headaches?

You can find better options at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Vladimir Fiks takes a different approach to treating complex pain conditions, including headaches. His approach starts with trying to identify the source of the problem. Then, Dr. Fiks uses interdisciplinary therapies to address the issue.

If you have chronic headaches derailing your life, here’s how peripheral nerve stimulation could help.

Introducing peripheral nerve stimulation

Unlike medications that focus on a person’s symptoms, peripheral nerve stimulation tackles them at the source.

Each time you experience pain, nerves in your body send a signal to your brain for processing so you know how to feel. This is all thanks to your nervous system function as a way of your body telling you there’s something wrong and you should do something about it.

But you won’t know a thing about it until your brain processes the signal. That’s where peripheral nerve stimulation comes in.

Peripheral nerve stimulation — or PNS — disrupts the pain signals going to your brain. This interference, known as neuromodulation, changes the message the brain receives. The result is quite simple: without a nerve pain signal, the brain doesn’t say you have a headache.

How peripheral nerve stimulation works

If you’ve struggled with chronic headaches, PNS can seem too good to be true. However, it’s been around since the mid-1960s and its targeted approach can provide significant relief for chronic pain conditions.

There are several PNS devices, but they all share three essential components:

To treat chronic headaches, Dr. Fiks identifies the peripheral nerve associated with your condition. These are the nerves linked to your senses, muscles, and unconscious processes, like breathing and heartbeat.

Once Dr. Fiks identifies the nerve linked to your headaches, he places a thin electrode nearby and connects it to the power source.

When the device gets activated, it sends mild stimulation to the nerve, which interferes with the signal it sends to the brain. The stimulation can be adjusted as needed, and you can turn the device on and off.

This innovative approach can eliminate the need for pain medications and even surgery.

What to expect from PNS for chronic headaches

A PNS device gets surgically implanted, so people can live with them indefinitely. However, the first step involves testing the treatment to ensure it helps ease your symptoms before implantation.

The trial period typically lasts at least a week, and you can control the device yourself the entire time. During this stage, Dr. Fiks places the electrode wires near the targeted nerve, but you wear the power source outside of your body.

For the next week or so, you keep track of your pain symptoms to determine the success of the treatment.

After your trial period, Dr. Fiks reviews your results and you can decide to move forward with permanent implantation.

A PNS device is very small, making implantation nearly painless. However, you receive a local anesthetic to numb the skin at the incision site. The office procedure only takes an hour, and it comes with few complications. PNS is also completely reversible if needed. 

Are you struggling with chronic headaches? Contact Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, by phone or online to find treatment options today.

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