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Occipital Nerve Stimulation for Patients with Chronic Headaches

by Dr Brian Klagges

Dr. Brian Klagges received his MD from the State University of New York at Buffalo before completing training in general surgery, anesthesiology, and interventional pain management. Today, as an anesthesiologist and pain interventionalist at multiple medical facilities in New Hampshire, Dr. Brian Klagges performs several specialized procedures, including occipital nerve stimulator implantation.
Hailed as a viable treatment option for several nerve-related ailments, occipital nerve stimulation involves implanting an electrical impulse-emitting neurostimulator device into the body. The impulses stimulate both the greater and the lesser occipital nerves and can provide relief to patients experiencing headaches, back pain, epilepsy, and even depression.
The procedure is commonly used in patients experiencing chronic pain from vascular, traction, inflammatory, or tension headaches. For a headache to be considered chronic, it must occur in excess of 15 days a month for a minimum of three months in a row. According to one study, occipital nerve stimulation decreased pain in patients with chronic headaches from a score of 9 on a 10-point scale to just 3.3 after six months of treatment.                            
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