Have you ever suffered from a migraine? Well, did you know that migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, and that 12% of the population, including children, suffers from migraines? Interestingly, approximately 90% of individuals who live with migraines actually have a family history of migraines, as well.
What Causes a Migraine?
What do we know about migraines? It has been well established that migraines are in fact caused by an onset of dysfunction in the neurons in the brain. Basically, neurons in the brain begin to fire aberrantly, which can essentially be triggered by anything from fluctuations in our hormones and blood sugar, to foods / drinks in our diet, and even bright lights / strong smells.
Stops You Dead in Your Tracks
If you have ever experienced a migraine headache, you likely know what typically occurs once it has begun. It pretty much leaves you completely unable to function, and you are left lying in a dark and quiet room, unable to even lift your head up from your pillow. This is typically the best-case scenario; in the worse-case scenario, you end up in the ER, and are hospitalized until it is controlled.
What Are Typical Treatments?
Migraine treatments range from use of blood pressure medications and drugs that alter the neurotransmitters in the neuronal synapses of the brain, to antidepressants and even Botox injections. Botox injections, you say? Yes, when migraines become chronic and difficult to treat, patients can opt to undergo Botox injections into their scalp and face to essentially “block the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission”, and from what I have heard from patients who have undergone this therapy, the injections can be extremely painful in-and-of-themselves.
Do These Therapies Work?
Of course there are a very wide range of therapies and treatments for migraine headaches, and oftentimes either a single or combination therapy approach can work quite well for individuals. However, it is still a very common and regular occurrence to see patients in clinical practice who have experienced no improvement at all from any of these therapies, and who are either still ending up in the ER on a weekly basis due to the debilitative effects of their migraines, or who are just unable to function in their daily lives, and are losing out on their ability to live as vital and functioning members of their communities.
What If They Don’t Work?
The clinical success that has been achieved with the use of perineural injection therapy (PIT) has been quite impressive. Now I know what you are thinking; how are the perineural injections any different from the Botox injections? Well, if you think about both the solution that is being injected, as well as the depth at which the injections are taking place, there is in fact quite a difference between these two therapies.
Botox injections are comprised of a neurotoxic protein produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium that is essentially being injected deep into the muscles of the scalp and face, which can have adverse side effects, including vision disturbances, neck stiffness, muscle paralysis, swelling of eyelids, drooping of eyebrows, and even headaches. Is it strange that it may in fact cause the single thing that it is meant to treat??
PIT, on the other hand, is comprised of a 5% glucose solution in sterile water, that is being injected with a needle the size of an acupuncture needle, and is going no further than directly underneath the skin (i.e. subcutaneous). The solution used in these types of injections is essentially providing the neurons with healing nutrients, so that they are able to function optimally. In addition to this, the mechanical effect of these injections can actually work to relieve the pressure being placed upon these nerve branches, as well.
I have seen patients in clinical practice go from being hospitalized on a weekly basis, while taking every migraine therapy under the sun, achieve lasting migraine relief after a single treatment of PIT. I have seen patients who have suffered with meningeal adhesions after recovery of life-threatening meningitis, who have suffered for years, without any significant relief or improvement in the severity of their migraines, with their doctors telling them that they do not have any other therapies for them to try, and that they essentially have to just lay in bed while their lives pass them by, completely get their lives back, and regain their ability to go out with friends to loud / noisy restaurants, without even a hint of any discomfort or pain, just with PIT treatments.
There is clearly not enough research out there yet about the broad spectrum of implications for the use of PIT, but what I can tell you is that in my own clinical experience, I have seen PIT give my patients their lives back, and to me, that means everything.