If you suffer from frequent headaches, you’re not alone. Many people in the Midlands deal with headaches on a pretty regular basis—and often conventional treatment techniques don’t help. New research shows that nasal surgery might offer relief to some of these individuals.
What Do Sinuses Have to Do with Headaches?
The idea that sinus surgery might somehow provide a long-term solution to persistent headaches might seem strange at first. But a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison has found that a surgical procedure can, in fact, help some individuals whose headaches are the result of obstructed breathing find relief.
Ahmed M. Afifi, MD, reviewed the results of 39 separate studies that followed 1,577 patients who had undergone functional nasal surgery that targeted mucosal “contact points” within the nose and sinuses to treat chronic headaches. Their research, published in last December’s issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, showed that this procedure helped reduce or eliminate chronic headaches in many of the patients.
Functional nasal surgery often targets these “contact points,” which have been shown to trigger chronic headaches in certain patients. It is most often performed on patients with obstructed breathing that causes allergy symptoms and obstructive sleep apnea. Usually, it’s used to correct a deviated septum or eliminate excess sinus tissue. Roughly half of the procedures Dr. Afifi’s group looked at involved endoscopic sinus surgery, which is recommended for individuals with chronic sinus infections who have tried, without success, to treat their symptoms with medications.
Their research found that 85 percent of patients noticed at least a partial improvement in headaches after undergoing the procedure. Better still, 48 percent reported their headaches were cured and 37 percent experienced a reduction in the severity and/or frequency of headaches. 15 percent had no change in symptoms.
Another subset of studies found that patients who received functional nasal surgery experienced a drop in the number of days with headaches from 22 per month to only six. In addition, the pain that accompanied these headaches was less severe. Those patients who were chosen for a type of nasal surgery that uses a local anesthetic nerve block or underwent endoscopic sinus surgery were most likely to notice a positive outcome from the procedure.
Dr. Afifi’s research was the first to compile data from multiple studies and show that surgery on nasal contact points may be a viable option for certain patients experiencing chronic headaches. It demonstrates the link between nasal anatomy and headache feedback loops and offers evidence that detailed diagnostic testing should be used to identify patients who are likely to respond best to functional nasal surgery.
If you suffer from persistent headaches and haven’t been able to find a long-term solution, contact an ear, nose and throat specialist at CENTA Medical Group, PA to learn more about the possibility of a surgical fix.