UW Health doctor pioneering new treatment for migraines

UW Health doctor pioneering new treatment for migraines

MADISON, Wis. — Abby Turner has helped perform dozens of surgeries to treat migraines. But in 2019, when she began having migraines of her own, she knew who to call.

Turner, a nurse at UW Health’s allergy clinic, began having headaches seven years ago. She started using medications, but nothing seemed to work. So, she visited Dr. Alaa Abd-Elsayed, the medical director at UW Health’s pain clinic. The two were working together at the time.

Turner asked about radiofrequency ablation treatment, which sends heat and electrical stimulation to nerves in the head, but Abd-Elsayed, known as Dr. Al, proposed a new technique: One that he developed.

The treatment uses a nerve-blocking injection that disrupts pain signals as a trial alongside radiofrequency ablation. According to Abd-Elsayed, the ablation extends the lifespan of the injection.

“A colleague had heard about me using the technique, read my publications on the technique and thought I should name it,” Abd-Elsayed said. “So I came up with ‘The ALblation Technique.’”

Turner said she didn’t see any changes for the first two months.

“But then, it was like a light switch, I didn’t have another headache for 10 months.”

ALblation is not permanent, Abd-Elsayed said, but its impact can last up to two years.