Magnetic Device Eases Migraines

Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 05:08 PM

By Nick Tate

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British scientists have developed a portable magnetic stimulation device that has been found to be effective against migraine headaches.

The device, which sends magnetic impulses to the brain with the push of a button to combat the condition, has been recommended as a treatment by the U.K's National Institute for Health Care and Excellence, according to Medical News Today.

Migraines are severe recurrent headaches often accompanied by sensitivity to light and nausea, as well as visual disturbances, including blind spots, tunnel vision, and even temporary blindness. Some sufferers experience numbness or tingling, dizziness, weakness, or vertigo.

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Causes of the condition are unknown, but migraines can be triggered by environmental factors, stress, alcohol, lack of food, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes.

Drugs are usually prescribed to treat migraines, but clinical trials of the new portable handheld device have shown it to be effective and its developers say it could "transform lives" of migraine sufferers.

In one study, involving 164 migraine sufferers, the device was effective in 39 percent of patients within two hours, while another 29 percent were pain free within a day and an additional 27 had no symptoms after 48 hours.

Another study found 75 percent of patients who used the device had a reduction in the frequency of headaches.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a similar device — called the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator — for the treatment of migraines late last year.

Researchers say the device may be useful for patients who find current treatment methods, such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines, unsuitable.

"This is a breakthrough treatment for those who cannot tolerate or do not respond to current treatment, and opens the door for a new era in treating migraine headaches," said Fayyaz Ahmed, M.D., a consultant neurologist and a trustee of U.K. charity The Migraine Trust.

"We welcome NICE guidance and very much hope this treatment is made available to those in need."

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