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Neurostimulation uses electricity to wipe away painful migraines

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Electrical stimulation eases migraine frequency in small study

Migraine sufferers may get relief from an electronic device invented by researchers in Belgium, known as a supraorbital transcutaneous stimulator. Pain from migraine headaches can take a toll on income from medications needed to control repeated bouts and lost wages, making a new treatment approach noteworthy.

The device works by stimulating a nerve involved in pain control - the supraorbital nerve. Electricity is delivered to the nerve with electrodes applied to the skin, which medically known as neurostimulation.

According to the study authors electronic stimulation to control migraine headaches works the same as drugs, but without the side effects. It's also noninvasive.

For their study, researchers tested 67 patients who reported migraine headache at least 4 times a month.

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Participants received stimulation with either the externally applied device for 20 minutes a day for 3-months or treatment with a fake stimulator, as a control. Neurostimulation isn't painful either. Participants reported a ‘tingling’ sensation.

Almost 40 percent of patients whose migraines were ‘zapped’ reported a 50 percent reduction in frequency of the painful condition and without any side effects.

The study, known as the PREvention of MIgraine using the STS Cefaly (PREMICE) trial, is published online February 6 in Neurology.

Patients in the study were able to take fewer medications in for migraine relief after they were treated with the neurostimulator that costs approximately $400. The device to zap migraines is awaiting approval in the US and is available in Canada and Europe with a prescription.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons



I have between 3-4 migraines monthly and they last 3-4 days, sometimes I have to wear shades all day ....