Migraines are characterized as being a form of moderate to severe recurrent headaches - lasting for hours or even days - that cause excessive throbbing pain, nausea and extreme sensitivity to light. The World Health Organization estimates that around 10% of adults worldwide suffer from migraine.
A group of researchers from Belgium identified the therapeutic properties of using an electrical stimulator for 20 minutes a day. The study included 67 participants who suffered from migraine an average of four times a month.
The investigators monitored them for one month without any form of treatment. They then treated the patients with either 20 minutes of electrical stimulation per day or sham stimulation (electrical stimulation too low to have an effect) for three months.
When placed on the forehead, Cefaly provides electrical stimulation of the supraorbital nerve.
Photo from cefaly.ca.
None of the patients experienced any negative side effects from using the nerve stimulator.
Promising future for migraine treatmentLead author of the study, Jean Schoenen, MD, PhD, of Liège University in Belgium, said, "These results are exciting, because the results were similar to those of drugs that are used to prevent migraine, but often those drugs have many side effects for people, and frequently the side effects are bad enough that people decide to quit taking the drug,"
Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, chair of neurology at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio, commented, "It's certainly true that for some people side effects are really problematic. Depending on the class of medication, there can be problems with weight gain, hair loss, thinking, sedation, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness and, for men, particular sexual side effects."
Cefaly has a price of close to $400 and is currently available in Belgium, France and Canada. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still in the process of making an approval decision.
A demonstration of Cefaly in action
Effective migraine treatment appears to be within reachA previous study published in
In addition, an article published in Medical News Today in September 2012 suggested that a hand-held, non-invasive single pulse Spring Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) device, made by eNeura Technology in California, may provide effective treatment for migraine.
Some lifestyle changes may help reduce migraine frequency, says Mayo Clinic doctor, Robert Sheeler M.D.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist