It took just several small incisions by St. Luke’s University Health Network plastic surgeon Juan Carlos Martinez, MD, to relieve pressure on the nerves under Amber Walck’s scalp, and suddenly her two-year agony from migraines was history.
Just after the Wescosville, Lehigh County woman turned 30 last year, her debilitating headaches began without warning. About 39 million Americans suffer from migraines with pain that ranges from mild to crippling.
Unfortunately, about one-third of migraine patients are not helped by standard therapies, and even the most effective medications only reduce migraine severity and frequency, rather than completely eliminating them.
Amber became obsessed with finding treatment for her nearly non-stop pain, dizziness and nausea.
“I couldn’t be a mom or a wife,” she lamented. She missed work often and only found temporary relief lying in the dark with ice packs crunched against her forehead.
Searching for an answer online and in person, she went to doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors–anyone who might offer a solution. She tried scads of medications–many with unpleasant side effects–injections, biofeedback, nerve blocks and anything that might hold a glimmer of hope. Still, the stabbing, throbbing, excruciating headaches continued.
“I didn’t want to live like this,” she recalled. “I was desperate.”
Amber found her answer close to home. She learned that Dr. Martinez is the area’s only board-certified plastic surgeon trained in the minimally invasive surgical technique called nerve decompression, which cuts off headache trigger points: nerves in the front, sides and back of the skull that conduct pain. While nerve decompression has long been widely used to address hand and wrist pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, the migraine treatment is new and offered by relatively few plastic surgeons nationwide.
Meeting Dr. Martinez was life-changing for Amber. In two brief surgical sessions in 2018, he removed the source of her agony. She could live pain-free again.
“Dr. Martinez gave me my life back,” she said. “More migraine sufferers should know about this amazing doctor.”
To celebrate her good fortune, Amber had the image of a regal lion tattooed on her right calf.
“It reminds me of my strength and patience,” she said.
Those traits helped her survive a torturous time that’s now becoming a distant memory she’d like to forget.
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.