MRI Specialist Chronic Cluster Headache Treatment Centers


Constant cluster headaches are experienced as clusters of short intense attacks every day. These can last for a period of weeks or months. A current way of treating migraine headaches that are medication resistant, is to stimulate the target nerve. Specifically, stimulation of the nerve at the back of the neck has become a hopeful treatment. It is, however, still unclear how stimulating this nerve treats constant cluster headaches. Because the procedure takes some time to show meaningful results it is thought that signals are being sent by nerve cells and contributing to the outcome. To test this theory this study looked for changes in areas of the brain involved with pain control using a technique called metabolic neuroimaging.

Ten patients with constant cluster headache took part in the study. Patients went through a specific brain scan after stimulating the nerve. Patients were scanned during the nerve stimulation process and when the stimulator was off, this occurred at intervals between 0-30 minutes. After 6-30 months of nerve stimulation: 3 patients experienced no pain and 4 patients had more than 90% of their attack frequency reduced.

Looking at the changes in sugar (glucose) break down in the brain, specific areas involved with controlling the pain shows that stimulating the neck nerve may act through a process that involves the signalling between nerve cells. The signals being sent is what results in the treatment of cluster headache. Because of an increase in brain activity in one portion of the brain, stimulating the neck nerve might be able to repair sections in the brain controlling pain that are not functioning properly.

What has been noticed is that shortly after stopping the stimulation, the cluster attacks return for the patient. The points suggest that stimulating the nerve at the back of the neck on treats migraine symptoms, therefore brain imaging studies need to be done on a larger population to confirm the results of this study.


View the full PDF at this link: Stimulating the neck nerve as a possible treatment for chronic cluster headaches.

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