If you think that you are stuck with migraine headaches, it might be time to think again.
Not all adults are able to tolerate medications used to treat migraines, but a prescription device may be able to help. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a pair of device for marketing, and they are the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device and the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator.
Clinical studies have shown that both devices are effective treatments, and that they have limited side effects or risks when used as instructed.
Intense throbbing pain in a specific area of the head, as well as light sensitivity and nausea are common symptoms of a migraine headache. If left untreated, a migraine can last as long as 72 hours at a time.
Statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that about 37 million (12%) of Americans suffer from migraines. Both children and adults can be affected, but females are 3 times more likely than males to have a migraine. Roughly 18% of women have experienced a migraine headache.
Of the overall number of migraine sufferers, about one-third also experience visual disturbances (blind spots, flashing lights, or spot) at the onset of a migraine.
The Devices that Treat Migraines
Michael Hoffmann, a biomedical engineer with the FDA, explained that these types of devices are necessary, mostly because anti-migraine medications often come with side effects that many patients simply cannot handle.
The Cerena device is put into use when a migraine sufferer feels as though a headache is about to begin. This was the first such device to be granted marketing approval by the FDA, as it has proven effective in relieving migraine pain.
When using the Cerena device, the patient is required to hold the unit against the back of their head. A button on the device is pressed down for less than a second, after which it releases a magnetic pulse used to stimulate the occipital cortex of the brain.
The Cerena device uses Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) technology, which has been studied for a while now, but which has just recently been approved for certain clinical uses. Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrical nerve stimulation passed through the skin, and is the first such device to be granted FDA approval. Patients over the age of 18 use the device to prevent the onset of migraine headaches.
Patients who use Cefaly on a daily basis have been found to experience fewer days where they experience a migraine headache. TENS technology was previously used for the treatment of general pain, but is now authorized as a preventative device for migraine sufferers.