Can Alcohol Injections in the Eye Nerves Stop Headaches?

  • Medical Author:
    Standiford Helm II, MD

    Dr. Helm has been practicing interventional pain management since 1982. Dr. Helm is a diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology with subspecialty certification in Pain Medicine and of the American Board of Pain Medicine. Dr. Helm is a Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP), the only certifying agency which tests the ability to perform interventional pain procedures. Dr. Helm is also an examiner for FIPP.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Ask the experts

Have you ever heard of putting alcohol injections into the eye to permanently stop "optic nerve" headaches?

Doctor's response

The most common cause of headaches coming from the optic nerve is increased intracranial (inside the skull) pressure, which in turn can cause increased pressure on the optic nerve and result in pain. Treatment is focused on lowering the pressure.

Using alcohol, or other means, to destroy a nerve so that it cannot transmit pain information is well-described technique. Around the head, it has been used to treat problems associated with the trigeminal ganglion and its branches and even to treat pituitary problems. Alcohol would not be the current first choice for any injections around the head.

Injecting alcohol into the eye or the optic nerve for any reason would lead to blindness; one should not inject alcohol into these structures.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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Reviewed on 6/9/2017

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