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Supraorbital Occipital Circumferential Stimulation as a Proposed Intervention for Chronic Primary Headaches

SOCS may serve as an effective treatment option to reduce symptoms.

A PPM Brief

Individuals with chronic primary headaches often present with various other comorbidities (e.g., depression, anxiety) as well as a significant reduction in quality of life. There has been great difficulty in treating primary headaches, with options ranging from prophylactic drugs such as anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and beta-blockers, all displaying low efficacy in headache relief.

However, a recent retrospective study1 conducted by Jiang JF, et al, examined the long-term (33.5 ±20 months) effects of supraorbital occipital circumferential stimulation (SOCS) in patients (n = 25) diagnosed with chronic primary headache may shed some light. SOCS is an approach that takes advantage of neuromodulation, specifically nerve stimulation, to reduce symptoms. Due to the refractory properties of primary chronic headaches to pharmacologic and procedural interventions, beneficial treatment options have been hard to target. The researchers of this study tested the viability of stimulating the occipital and supraorbital nerves.

SOCS may serve as an effective treatment option to reduce symptoms. (Source: 123RF)

Researchers found a high efficacy rate using this method, with over half of the patient population benefiting from the SOCS technique - an overall response rate (>=50% pain reduction) of 82% was seen in 11 of the patients. Participants’ preoperative and postoperative 10-point pain scores were recorded; preoperative scores ranged from 7.1 ±  1.6 with an overall decrease from 3.3 ±2.1 in postoperative screenings. Of all the participants, 14 benefited enough to undergo full implantation.

With an overall response rate of over 80%, SOCS may offer a high-efficacy approach to treating symptoms in patients with chronic primary headache disorders. Complications including infection, erosion, and loss of effect were evident, however warranting a greater look into this technique for this specific population. “Occipital nerve stimulation alone has shown 40% to 50% response rate in published studies,” the study authors wrote.

-Reporting by Cornelius Muntazar

Last updated on: March 21, 2019
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