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|Madelyn Blaser||Madison Gulig|
Children Getting Relief at UW Health's Pediatric Neurology Headache Clinic
Madelyn Blaser of Janesville, Wisconsin was 13 when she started getting debilitating migraine headaches.
“I would get them almost daily,” Madelyn recalls. “I couldn’t do my schoolwork or clean my room. It hurt to even think.”
As the intensity of her headaches grew, resulting in frequent trips home from school, Madelyn’s primary care physician referred her to UW Health’s Pediatric Neurology Headache Clinic, located at University Hospital in Madison. There, Madelyn began seeing Cassie Meffert, PA, a pediatric neurology physician assistant who cares for more than 700 children of all ages.
Many children come to the clinic with migraines, but others come for help with chronic daily headaches. Patients are typically between ages 5 and 18, although middle and high school students make up the largest share.
“When a child first comes to our clinic, we start by identifying lifestyle changes that may help reduce headache intensity and frequency,” says Cassie. “Getting enough sleep, eating regularly, hydrating properly, exercising, limiting stress – these are all things we try to work on before we talk about medication or procedures.”
Several medical interventions available
Children whose headaches are severe enough to warrant coming to a headache clinic typically require some type of medical intervention.
“We have several medications available for patients,” Cassie says. “We also want to limit the likelihood of any side effects, so we carefully evaluate each child to be sure the medication provides the greatest benefit with the smallest potential side effect.”
About one in four of Cassie’s patients receive some form of injection to control their headaches. Typically, these procedures take one of three forms:
Trigger point injections
Occipital nerve blocks
Trigger point injections often bring great relief
“Most of our children who receive trigger point injections notice a very rapid improvement,” Cassie says. “For those who don’t, we can try occipital nerve blocks or Botox® injections, although these can be a bit more painful.”
Patients such as Madelyn, who received trigger point injections, come to the UW Health clinic every 8 weeks.
“We typically give 10 injections behind the patient’s neck or shoulders,” says Cassie. “We inject lidocaine, which is a numbing medicine, or a combination of lidocaine and Solu Medrol, which is a steroid that decreases inflammation.”
Now 16, Madelyn began receiving trigger point injections in late 2017 and has been very pleased with her progress.
“Night and day” difference
“It has been night and day for her,” says Madelyn’s mother, Arryn Blaser. “Before coming to UW Health, she was miserable, and I felt hopeless. Madelyn loves school, so it really was hard to keep bringing her home partway through the day.”
Madison Gulig, a 15-year old high school sophomore from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, used to miss school several times a week because of severe headaches. After starting trigger point injections, she is smiling again and enjoying life.
“Madison noticed improvement after the first round of injections,” says her mother, Sarah. “After two months, her headaches were down to once a week, and lately, they have been only about once a month. We’re also trying to be sure she eats breakfast every morning and drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Overall, it’s been a total blessing for Madison.”
For more information about the UW Health Pediatric Neurology Headache Clinic, please call (608) 890-6500.