7 Healthcast: Numbing nerve for migraine relief - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

7 Healthcast: Numbing nerve for migraine relief

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BOSTON (WHDH) -- If you get migraines, you know the only thing you care about while your head pounds, is finding relief. While medications work for some people, others are still left fighting the pain. 

For as long as she can remember, 20-year-old Karlee Howard has had migraines.

"It was like a stabbing, dull, all the time aching pain in the back of my head that would never go away," Howard said.

Karlee has a condition where her brain can't fit inside her skull. She actually had a piece of her skull removed, but it didn't provide relief.

"Nobody could figure out what to do. Nobody could help me," she said.

Karlee tried acupuncture, massages and prescription medicine but nothing worked.

An interventional pain specialist was tasked with identifying the nerve causing Karlee's migraines.

"I was able to numb up the third occipital nerve around her spine. She then reported her pain relief over a two to three day period," said Dr. Seth Billodeaux, pain specialist.

Her relief was significant so doctors used heat and electricity to permanently numb the problematic nerve.

"Once I place this needle here, we heat the tip of this needle, which is able to ablate or permanently numb this nerve," Billodeaux said.

Three needles were used at the top, middle and bottom of the nerve. It took about 15 minutes to complete under mild anesthesia.

"I figured that I'd wake up and five days later I would have a headache again, but that hasn't happened. I've been 100 percent no headache," said Howard.

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