Study finds new device can decrease frequency of migraines without use of drugs

About 2 in 5 had fewer migraines per month

INDIANAPOLIS - A new drug-free treatment offers some promise for the more than 29 million Americans who suffer from migraines.

A device known as Cefaly, which is currently sold in Canada, delivers small electrical pulses through the forehead.

A study from a Belgium university shows that about 38 percent of the patients who received the treatment had about half as many migraines a month.

"I thought it was very promising," said Dr. Cynthia McGarvey, a neurologist with JWM Neurology at St. Vincent who has looked at the study. "I think any options that we can give our migraine patients to give them some control over their treatment and some more options -- besides medications to take orally and get side effects from -- is I think a fabulous thing."

In the trial, the frequency of migraine days went from 6.9 to 4.8 days a month.

"What this device in theory would do is stimulate the nerves on the face or the head, and so the receptors would be depleted of their neuro transmitter," McGarvey said. "So, the pain signals wouldn't be as able to go through."

This study looked only at the frequency of migraine attacks, not how effective the device is in reducing pain once a migraine hits.

"(A migraine) can be debilitating and overwhelming," McGarvey said. "That's why it's so important that if somebody does suffer from migraines, they don't do it in silence. There are so many options."

This device is available in Canada but is not approved by the FDA in the U.S.

McGarvey said migraine sufferers can ask their doctor about this treatment and other options that work to stimulate the nerves in the affected area so the pain signal is not going through.  

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