New Technologies May Ease Pain for Migraine Sufferers

If you are one of the 28 million Americans who suffer from migraines, you know that this is no ordinary headache.

The sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and pulsating pain that often accompany a migraine can literally be disabling.

However, studies presented Friday at the American Headache Society’s annual meeting in Boston suggest that new technologies may lead to promising treatments, U.S. News & World Report reported Thursday.

One study found that stimulating the back of the head with a handheld magnetic device – at the onset of a migraine – reduced migraine pain significantly.

Another study found that stimulating the occipital nerve with an implanted device would relieve patients who don’t respond to conventional treatments.

Here’s how the treatments work:

The transcranial magnetic stimulation device is held to the back of the head when a person has the first migraine aura. By pressing a button twice, two magnetic pulses are sent to the brain, which short-circuit abnormal electrical activity

Out of 164 participants, 39 percent of patients were pain-free within two hours

— In the neurostimulator study, patients were split into three groups. Twenty-eight patients were implanted with an adjustable neurostimulator, 16 were implanted with one that could not be adjusted and 17 were only given medicine.

An electrode was implanted near the patient’s occipital nerve, which sent electrical impulses into the central nervous system. This is thought to block pain perception in the brain

About 40 percent of patients who could adjust the stimulator had at least a 50 percent pain reduction in the number of days they suffered migraines each month, or at least a three-point pain reduction on an intensity scale

More studies will have to be conducted before approval can be sought from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Click here to read the full story from U.S. News & World Report.