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Occipital nerve regional stimulation (ONS) is reported to improve pain in several studies. We examined long-term pain and functional outcomes of ONS in an open-label prospective study.
Patients with medically refractory and disabling craniofacial pain were prospectively selected for ONS. Primary outcome was a change in mean daily pain intensity on the numeric pain rating scale (NPRS) at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included changes in NPRS, Headache Impact Test-6 (HIT-6), Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS), Pain Disability Index (PDI), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale – Revised (CESD-R), and Short Form-36 version 2 (SF36) at last follow-up.
Thirteen patients (mean age 49.7 ± 8.4) diagnosed with occipital neuralgia (6), hemicrania continua (2), persistent idiopathic facial pain (2), post-traumatic facial pain (1), cluster headache (1), and chronic migraine (1) were enrolled. Mean NPRS improved by 2.1 ± 2.1 at 6 months and 2.1 ± 1.9 at last follow-up (23.5 ± 18.1 months). HIT-6 decreased by 8.7 ± 8.8, MIDAS decreased by 61.3 ± 71.6, and PDI decreased by 17.9 ± 18. SF36 physical functioning, bodily pain, and social functioning improved by 16.4 ± 19.6, 18.0 ± 31.6, and 26.1 ± 37.3, respectively. Moderate to severe headache days (defined as ≥50% of baseline mean NPRS) were reduced by 8.9 ± 10.2 days per month with ONS.
ONS reduced the long-term NPRS and moderate–severe monthly headache days by 30% and improved functional outcomes and quality of life. A prospective registry for ONS would be helpful in accumulating a larger cohort with longer follow-up in order to improve the use of ONS.