With the recent concussion settlement between the NFL and their players, and Major League Baseball establishing a new 7-day concussion DL for their players, the effects of concussive impacts on athletes is in the news more than ever before. The science is being studied at higher levels because the urgency of the problem is now fully recognized and because there is now more money behind these efforts than has been dedicated to them in the past. Unfortunately, one thing that is not mentioned in all of this work is the aftercare of athletes who go on to live the rest of their lives with sports injuries causing them chronic headaches such as migraines and nerve pain that in some cases can be reduced or eliminated with peripheral nerve surgery.
When they are impinged or irritated, the greater, lesser and third occipital nerves can cause chronic headaches that are often misdiagnosed as migraines. This nerve pathology can come from a variety of sources, including sports injuries. Athletes in collision sports or action sports can suffer whiplash which then leads to chronic headaches such as migraines. Moreover, such injuries often compound over the course of an athlete’s career because they are not generally treated mid-season. The result is a cascade effect where the cumulative nerve injury increases over the course of that season or a career. In addition, athletes are often encouraged to live with pain or mask it with medication thereby worsening the problem and ultimately causing more pain as they age. Traditional treatment modalities such as medication and massage may temporarily alleviate the problem, but do not strike at the heart of the problem which is often a mechanical compression or irritation of a nerve, by scar tissue or torn nerves themselves.
Peripheral nerve decompression has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency, severity and/or duration of chronic headaches in 88% of patients. These results are amongst the more effective solutions for migraine relief. All athletes, current and former, that suffer from debilitating headaches or migraines should inquire from their treating physician about a consultation with an experienced peripheral nerve surgeon if traditional modalities have proven ineffective in mitigating their symptoms. I have performed hundreds of nerve decompression procedures on people for chronic headaches and can easily say that they are amongst my most satisfied patients once the healing process is complete. If nothing else has helped, peripheral nerve surgery may be the answer for you.