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Migraine Relief through Novel Surgery by St. Luke’s Plastic Surgeon
July 26, 2019

It took just several small incisions by SLUHN plastic surgeon Juan Carlos Martinez, MD, to relieve pressure on the nerves under Amber Walck’s scalp, and suddenly her two-year agony with migraines was history.

Juan Carlos Martinez, MD

Juan Carlos Martinez, MD

Just after the Wescosville woman turned 30 last year, her debilitating headaches began without warning.  About 39 million Americans suffer from migraines that range 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 eliminate them.

Amber became obsessed with finding treatment for the nearly non-stop pain, dizziness and nausea.

“I couldn’t be a mom or a wife,” laments the Wescosville woman. She missed work often and only found temporary relief lying in the dark with ice packs crunched against her forehead.

Amber looked 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, anything that might hold a glimmer of hope. Still the stabbing, throbbing, excruciating headaches continued. 

“I didn’t want to live like this,” she recalls, “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 lifechanging 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 exclaims. “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 says. Those traits helped her survive a tortuous time that’s now becoming a distant memory that she’d like to forget.


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and 300 outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.  Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 28 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 226 residents and fellows.  St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke’s hospitals.  St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.