Its commonly understood that excess pressure on nerves can trigger migraine headaches. Whether pressure is the main reason or maybe some secondary condition that may be responsible for the pain differs from patient to patient, but many find that relieving this pressure can help relieve both severity and frequency of migraine headaches.
The trigeminal nerve plays an important role in triggering migraines, and currently there are several procedures and treatments commonly recommended to relieve pressure in this area. A much less considered cause of intense migraine pain originates mostly in the nose, once the septum becomes deviated.
What is a Deviated Septum?
It’s a quite narrow wall of cartilage that divides nostrils. In normal conditions, it’s straight and equally divides the nostrils and allows equal air flow through both. Sometimes, it gets displaced and may shift to one side or the other. This can make breathing difficult, but intense pressure due to this deviation can quickly set up pain chain reaction which mimics the migraine pain caused by pressure elsewhere.
Many throat, nose and ear specialists now claim good success rates among migraineurs who undergo surgery to correct their deviated septum. In fact, one surgeon in NY claims an 81 percent success rate, with 43 percent of those experiencing complete cure from recurring migraine type pain. The remaining reported better pain control from using various over-the-counter medications, leading to conclusion that they experienced significant reduction in their pain levels.
The Common Route to Migraine Diagnosis
People usually don’t consider deviated septum as the reason for their migraine when they first seek diagnosis. Doctor may refer you to a neurologist who may order few MRI scans to have a closer look at your brain, but some doctors may also check your nose. A CT scan of sinuses and nasal passage could reveal a septum that’s crooked or bent, providing vital clues to the exact reason for intense headache pain.
What Are The Signs and Common Symptoms of Deviated Septum?
If you feel you have any of the following symptoms, there is a possibility your septum is deviated. Most often, you won’t get any symptoms, so absence of symptoms is not an indication you don’t have it.
- Facial Pain — Severely deviated septum can result in acute facial pain when this deviation also impacts the nasal wall.
- Nosebleeds — With one sided breathing, there is an unnatural dryness of the nasal septum, which increases the risk of nosebleeds.
- Blocked Nostrils — It’s not possible to breathe naturally with blocked nostrils. You may find breathing more difficult through one nostril than the other. It is mostly caused due to infections in the upper respiratory tract when you’ve allergies, or a cold.
- Sleeping Positions — While every person has a preferred sleeping position, if you feel your sleeping position is dictated by how easy it is for you to breathe, this could be due to a deviated septum.
- Noisy Breathing When Asleep — It’s best to ask your partner if you find it hard to diagnose. Parents can easily observe this phenomenon in babies and children.
- Nasal Cycle Awareness — Many of us are not aware that we all go through a nasal cycle since it’s so natural for us to breathe. Being aware of a first clear nostril, then other being blocked could indicate an unnatural obstruction in one of the nostril.
Is It Possible To Reduce Your Migraine Attacks Or Cure Them With Septoplasty?
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure done to correct a deviated septum, but it won’t cure every person’s migraine headaches. The ones who would benefit most from this procedure are ones with high degree of sinus headache along with normal migraine causes. Sinus headache can sometimes mimic migraine both in severity and pain position in the head. People with deviated septum will normally experience headache on the same side of the head as the deviation.
According to some plastic surgeons, migraine headache may be attributed to septum deviation when:
- There has been facial trauma.
- Medication fails to relieve the headache.
- CT scans or MRI show nothing unusual.
- Either one or both nostrils are blocked, making normal breathing difficult.
- Traditional treatments for migraine have failed.
Septoplasty doesn’t take much time, and everything gets over in just an hour or so. During the procedure, the surgeon will cut and remove some septum parts to straighten and reposition it in a proper way in the center of the nose. The amount of relief patient experiences will depend upon the severity of the deviation.
Nasal obstruction due to deviation is completely resolved after the procedure, but other symptoms such as occasional allergies that may affect the nose lining or sinuses are not. They may still need some kind of medication for treatment.
As surgery to correct deviated septum is not a plastic surgery, it’s fully covered by some health insurance policies.
If you’ve tried many remedies without any relief from migraine pain, then maybe it’s originating from the last place you’d expect, and it’s worth investigating if you want to lead a pain-free life.