New procedure cures teen's 2-year headache - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New procedure cures teen's 2-year headache

Blair Rowand explains headaches. (Source: NBC) Blair Rowand explains headaches. (Source: NBC)

(NBC) - Ninth grader Blair Rowand was sitting in class when a debilitating two-year-long headache suddenly set in.

"The worst pain I've ever been in," she recalled.

She took pain relievers and tried to sleep it off, but it did not go away. The pain lasted for days, which turned into months, then years.

"As we started to go to doctors, all of a sudden they started looking at, 'Let's check your eyes. Is it a brain tumor?'" said Mike Rowand, Blair's father. "They put her in the hospital and did a spinal tap and did MRIs."

Blair visited different doctors who tested her for all sorts of problems, but no one could find a diagnosis and the pain continued.

It was taking a toll on her life.

"I didn't do anything else but sleep," she said. "I couldn't drive a car because everything was a distraction or like my mind couldn't focus on anything."

After two years of suffering, doctors told her she would be forced to live with the pain for the rest of her life.

Then plastic surgeon Dr. Ivan Ducic at Georgetown University Hospital came into the picture. He was performing a new surgery that was curing chronic headaches.

Ducic examined Blair's head and found tender areas in the back of her neck that he believed were compressed nerves, causing her headache.

"She had a pinched nerve in the back of her head called occipital nerves and a condition then is termed as occipital neuralgia," Ducic explained.

Ducic said surgery could decompress those nerves, alleviating her pain.

"You find the pinching point around the nerves, either in the muscle or tight tunnel or vessel," Ducic added. "You separate away from the nerve, like you unroot the nerve from anything sitting on it, pinching it."

Ducic said the surgery has an 80 percent success rate.

She underwent surgery last spring.

Blair said she felt relief as soon as she came out of surgery and the pain has not returned since.

"I enjoy school now and I like the fact that I actually get to go," she said. "I just spend time with all the people that I can because I've got two years to make up for."

Ducic said he believes there could be a lot of people suffering from this condition and they have no idea.

To be eligible for surgery, patients must have been suffering from headaches for at least six months. They should already be under the care of a headache or pain specialist.

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