Balloon Sinuplasty: A Treatment Option for Severe Sinus Headaches

Question: I have been dealing with terrible headaches for a long time. I went to the emergency room roughly 9 months ago with an excruciating headache.  They did a CT Scan and found that I had chronic sinusitis and a small retention cyst in my right maxillary.  I followed up with an ENT who is trying to treat it with nasal sprays.  Months later I felt some numbness above my left eye and had another CT scan which still proved chronic sinusitis but nothing wrong with the brain.  It is now August and my symptoms: daily headaches, pain between eyes and top of the head and temples, still are present. It is truthfully affecting my life and I can’t stand the pain.  My ENT mentioned a balloon sinuplasty but is now telling me it would have to be proven for me to have the procedure. Please help because this pain is awful.

Answer: Thank you for your question.

Headaches are always a difficult problem.  While sinusitis may be the cause of headaches, there are many other types of headaches that can be excruciating and difficult to manage as well.  It would be important to see what your sinus CT shows.  Should there be significant or persistent inflammation in your frontal sinuses (the sinuses in the forehead), then balloon sinuplasties may be helpful for you.  In balloon sinuplasty,  the doctor places a thin wire into the opening of the sinus- then inflates a balloon for about 10 seconds.  This results in a wider drainage site for the sinuses- and should alleviate frontal sinus infection.   It is done in the office, with local anesthetic- and there is virtually no downtime.  We do this frequently here at the NY Sinus Center and you can read more about it on our site,

However, as you can well imagine- this will not likely help you if your headaches are from migraines, muscle tension, cluster headaches- or other causes.

Sinus headaches will often respond temporarily to a course of antibiotics and nasal or oral steroids.  Migraines may present with visual changes (aura) or respond temporarily to a medication such as sumatriptan taken at the onset of a headache.

We’d be happy to see you here at the NY Sinus Center and help clear things up.

Robert Pincus MD

Co-Director NY Sinus Center

Associate Professor Otolaryngology