Drug Free Treatment for Migraines Tested
Safe, drug free, effective treatment for migraine sufferers may be just around the corner. Study investigator Richard B. Lipton, MD, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, New York presented evidence that TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, may help patients that use the device as soon as warning signs of migraine appear (migraine with aura). The device is hand held, weighs less than 3 pounds, is rechargeable and portable.
The current study, presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society is the second study of its kind. In 2006, the American Headache Society was presented with news that treatment using a large, tabletop TMS device reduced headache pain in the clinic. Because early intervention is necessary, the portable device has been designed for home use.
How it Works
Migraine headaches are thought to be a result of disturbances in the cortex of the brain, known as the cortical spreading depression (CSD) of Leão, or in other terms, a brain signal that is discordant. The hand-held TMS device is thought to disrupt cortical spreading depression. Animal experiments have replicated changes in blood flow that possibly occur with migraine headaches with aura, supporting the hypothesis, but the cause of migraine headaches has been elusive, making treatment difficult. (1) Many people cannot find relief with medications.
The challenge is to compare medication use to the TMS device, which fell short in relieving nausea, light sensitivity (photophobia), and increased sensitivity to sound (phonophobia). However, of the 164 outpatients studied, pain relief was superior when compared to the application of a sham device.
According to estimates, “Eleven million to 25 million Americans suffer from migraine, and headache is one of the top 10 reasons cited for an outpatient medical visit”. New drugs are being researched on a regular basis. Triptans are the most commonly prescribed medications used to treat migraine headaches, but the risk of side effects can be concerning to many patients. Treatment of migraine headaches without side effects that can be dangerous would be welcome news to millions of Americans.
Non-drug approaches to migraine headache treatment may include acupuncture, shiatsu massage, (a form of accupressure), regular exercise, and avoidance of dietary triggers. Some herbs, such as feverfew, and pine bark extract in combination with Vitamin C and Vitamin E have been shown to possibly help.
Source: American Headache Society 50th Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract LB-OR28. Presented June 27, 2008.
Pathophysiology of the migraine aura
Reported by Health Matter.