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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Magnetic Pulses May 'Zap' Migraine Pain

Study Shows Portable Device Can Zap Migraine Headache Pain

Migraine Zapper vs. 'Sham' Treatment continued...

The rates of headache-associated symptoms such as light sensitivity and nausea in the treated group were equal to or lower than the rates reported by the sham treatment group.

In a previous study of 43 patients treated at a medical office for their migraines with aura, Mohammad found that 74% who got the pulses had no pain or mild pain two hours later, but just 45% of those who got sham treatment did. He reported those results two years ago at the American Headache Society meeting. The more recent study examined only pain elimination, not reduction.

Migraine Zapper: How It Works

The zapper is believed to stop a migraine before it takes hold. "The migraine starts in nerve cells in the back of the head," Mohammad says. "There is a hyper-excitability in an area in the brain."

The aura, experts believe, is the result of this abnormal electrical activity or hyper-excitability, spreading from one nerve cell to the others. The magnetic stimulation device interrupts this process.

Migraine Zapper: 'Exciting' Treatment

"It seems to be effective for migraine with aura,'' says Roger Cady, MD, headache specialist and family practice physician in Springfield, Mo., who is familiar with the device and the study. "Whether it will be effective for migraine without aura is yet to be determined."

If it is approved, Cady says he will review more data before deciding to recommend it to patients.

"I think it's an exciting way of treating migraines. If it holds true, it would be a wonderful thing for patients."

Device for Migraine: What's Next?

The hope is to have the device on the market within six months, says Mohammad, who serves on the board of directors for NeuraLieve, which funded the study and provided the equipment. Whether patients will need ongoing treatments or simply a series of sessions to get rid of migraines is not known, he says.

In a prepared statement, the company says it is in the process of getting clearance from the FDA to market the device, which it refers to as the Neuralieve TMS Therapy System. The hope is to make it available to doctors to prescribe to patients.

The cost of the device is not yet known. Earlier versions of the device that use repetitive pulses instead of two brief pulses have been used for brain-mapping and to treat depression, Mohammad says.

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