SUNDAY, March 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Kids and teens who suffer with migraines may find relief from a nasal “nerve block” that’s commonly used in adults with the debilitating headaches, a new study suggests.
During the procedure, a catheter is placed in each nostril and inserted until it reaches a bundle of nerves at the back of the nose. At that point, an anesthetic is released that deadens those nerves, thus relieving the headache pain.
“The treatment does not require needles and often gives relief in just minutes, and relief can last for up to months,” said lead researcher Dr. Robin Kaye, from Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
“Migraine headaches are really common in the pediatric population, and affect up to 12 percent of kids over the age of 12,” she noted.
These headaches can be debilitating for kids, and especially for teenagers, Kaye said. “When kids have these, it prevents them from participating in school, sports, music and time spent with friends and family,” she said.
However, one headache expert had reservations about the study, noting that the therapy carried some risks while not providing significantly greater pain relief than existing medications.
In adults, the procedure is often done in a doctor’s office. A catheter or swab is inserted blindly until it reaches the nerve bundle. At that point, the anesthetic, usually lidocaine, is released.
In the study, Kaye’s team used a fluoroscope to ensure that the catheter was in the right place before the anesthetic was applied. A fluoroscope is a medical imaging tool that shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor, almost like an X-ray movie.
Kaye pointed out that the procedure is not a first-line therapy for migraine. Only children who have severe migraine and have failed other treatments are eligible.
The lowest levels of radiation possible were used during the procedure, she added, and no side effects were seen.
“It is not a cure for migraines. But it really can help improve the lives of these patients that are severely affected by migraine headache, and it can allow them to get back to their daily life sooner,” Kaye said.