California Doctors Lament Headache Care Is “50 Years behind”

Earlier this month an expert panel of headache doctors met to consider the evidence in support of new migraine treatments, one of the panelists lamented, “Headache care is 50 years behind things like diabetes and cancer.” This was Dr. Robert Cowan, director of Stanford University’s Headache Clinic, who is familiar with the state of the art in migraine care, and knows that our primary limiting factor is that we still don’t know what really causes migraines, which makes many migraine treatments something of a shot in the dark, as reflected by the current batch of treatments they were considering.

Three Treatments with Limited Effectiveness

dreamstime_xs_31532800The panel met to consider whether three new FDA-approved (or cleared) treatments showed sufficient evidence of effectiveness to justify their use. These were:

  • Botox
  • Cefaly
  • SpringTMS

Botox botulinum toxin is most commonly known as the wrinkle-reducer BOTOX ® Cosmetic, with more than five million treatments performed every year, but it has a number of medical applications, and is becoming increasingly popular for migraine treatment. The panel noted that it did have evidence to suggest its effectiveness in limited cases.

Cefaly, similar to a mini TENS unit that is battery-powered and worn on the head to supposedly prevent migraines showed very limited effectiveness.

SpringTMS also proposes to use electromagnetic waves to suppress migraines. It’s a small device a person presses to the back of their head when they feel a migraine coming on to suppress the headache. Although it did show some effectiveness for pain, it didn’t do any better than a sham device at suppressing many other aspects of migraines.

Alternative Treatment Need Is Urgent

Unfortunately, with so few good alternatives for migraine treatment, people tend to lean too heavily on pain medications, with unfortunate results. In fact, every year about 20,000 people in California develop chronic migraines as a result of taking opioid medications.

The good news is that TMJ treatment can be an effective, drug-free migraine treatment. For many people it uses the same mechanism as botox, relaxing tense muscles that can trigger migraines.

To learn whether TMJ treatment might help your migraines, please call  for an appointment with San Diego TMJ dentist Dr. Rod Strober at Strober Dental.