Washington – Scientists have developed a new minimally invasive technique that may offer a quicker and safer alternative to medications or intravenous therapies for migraine in kids.

Researchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the US reveal that migraines are a common medical condition among youth and adults and affects 12 per cent of people ages 12 and older. Migraine could overwhelm teenagers and is often responsible for disrupting everyday activities, such as school, music and sports for kids.

The new treatment called sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block is a small flexible catheter that is inserted into each nostril of the patient and local anaesthetic is administered to the SPG, a nerve bundle thought to be associated with migraines, located at the back of the nose. The treatment doesn’t involve any needles touching the patient.

Scientists say that by administering the local anaesthetic disables the SPG and this can disrupt and reset the headache circuit, breaking a cycle of severe migraines and reducing the need for medication. The minimally invasive SPG block takes almost immediate effect with relief potentially lasting for months, researchers said.

“This treatment, performed in an outpatient setting by an interventional radiologist, can safely relieve a child’s migraine quickly,” said Robin Kaye from Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the US. “By reducing the need for medications that come with serious side effects or intravenous therapies that may require hospital stays, children don’t have to miss as much school and can get back to being a kid sooner.”

Researchers conducted about 310 treatments in 200 patients ages 7 to 18 at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Patients’ pain levels before the intervention were recorded on a scale of 1-10. Ten minutes after the treatment, patients were asked to compare their pain level, using the same scale.

The researchers saw a statistically significant decrease in the headache scores, with average pain score reduction of just more than two points on the 10-point scale.

This particular method isn’t classified as a cure for migraine, but the treatment option has the potential of improving the quality of life for many children.

“It can be performed easily, without complications, and gives quick pain relief, which is important to parents who want to see their children happy, healthy and pain free again. If needed, we can also repeat the treatment if or when the migraine returns,” said Kaye.