Button-pushing device helps those who suffer migraines
Portable device sends pulses to the brain
Migraine headaches are the type of headache that can make the sufferer see things and trigger nausea to the point of vomiting. It's an everyday agony that untold people suffer from. Doctors have had little success in taming these onsets, but now a new magnetic "pain zapping" device that relieves the pain with the push of a button.
The size and weight of a hair-dryer, the device is held against the back of the head at the first sign of a migraine.
In the trial, 164 migraine patients treated with a single trans-cranial magnetic stimulation and 39 percent were pain-free two hours later. One day after the treatment, 29 percent were still pain free as were 27 percent after 48 hours.
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Three-quarters of patients with migraine in a different study, who were treated repeatedly with the trans-cranial magnetic device, also reported a reduction in headache frequency, even those with chronic migraine.
The size and weight of a hair-dryer, the device is held against the back of the head at the first sign of a migraine. At the push of a button, the device gives out two fleeting bursts of electricity which short-circuit the "electrical storm" in the brain that causes the splitting pain, flashing lights and blurred vision associated with migraines.
Miriam Heyburn, suffering from migraines since the age of eight and has suffered headaches every other day, or daily, in recent years. The TMS device has enabled her to go four, five and occasionally even 10 days, without headaches. "The device has transformed my life and I don't have to take anywhere near as many tablets," she says.
Estimates suggest that in Britain there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day and 25 million days are lost from work or school each year as a result. The device may be helpful for those who find alternatives ineffective, or unsuitable, such as for people who are pregnant.
People interested in trying the device can ask their general practitioner for a referral to a specialist migraine and headache clinic.
"Single pulse trans-cranial magnetic stimulation is a wonderful example of clinical and laboratory research delivering a real improvement in migraine treatment that is both effective and extremely well tolerated," Professor Peter Goadsby, chair of the British Association for the Study of Headache, and director of the National Headache Centre at King's College Hospital in London, says. "Many patients are going to get real benefit from this device."
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