Dr. Campbell: New treatments for migraine headaches
by Dr. Kevin Campbell
RALEIGH, N.C. -
Millions of Americans suffer from migraines, which typically involve intense, throbbing pain in one side of the head, along with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, about 10 percent of people worldwide complain of migraines, with women affected three times more often than men.
Recently the FDA approved a new device for the treatment of migraines.
Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.
Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms (aura), such as flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling in the arm or leg.
Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway.
Typically, migraines are diagnosed by a neurologist and treated with medications for prevention as well as other medicines for termination of the migraine when it does occur.
The FDA has just approved a new device to prevent migraine headaches. This is the first device of its kind and may revolutionize the way we treat headaches.
It’s not yet available in the United States. It’s made in Belgium and is available now in Europe and Canada with a prescription.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month approved the first device aimed at preventing migraines.
The device, called Cefaly, is a headband-like device that runs on a battery and sits across the forehead and over the ears, the FDA said in a statement.
"The user positions the device in the center of the forehead, just above the eyes, using a self-adhesive electrode," the agency explained. "The device applies an electric current to the skin and underlying body tissues to stimulate branches of the trigeminal nerve, which has been associated with migraine headaches."
The device, made by Cefaly, emits electrical impulses to the brain and has been proven to decrease migraine headaches and it has resulted in many patients no longer need medications.
The device is used daily for 20 minutes a day. This was shown in a clinical trial to significantly reduce the number and severity of migraines. The impulses start slowly and then ramp up to full intensity over the last few minutes of each treatment.
To get this device, you must see a neurologist and obtain a prescription. The device is estimated to cost around $295 and is available via prescription from the Cefaly website beginning this month.