Best Migraine Device – Novel Nerve Stimulation Treatments & More
Living with migraine pain is not easy and it can affect us, migraine warriors, our whole life.
So, we all know that migraine prevention can only take you so far – at some point or the other, you will experience migraine headaches. That is why people are relying on various treatments to relieve pain, like nerve stimulation treatments.
There are many devices specifically for migraine treatment – but what are the most successful ones? Continue reading to see for yourself!
What Kind Of Migraine Devices Are There For Acute Treatment?
Well, the first thing we should discuss is that in reality, many different devices serve as an acute treatment for migraine attacks. The effect is pretty much the same for every device – but they work differently.
The basic way to put it is – each device and treatment targets different nerves, or it stimulates the nerves differently. Because of that, we have:
1. Supraorbital Stimulation
This type of device would target the branch of the trigeminal nerve. As it stimulates, it brings a sensation to the upper eyelid, scalp, and forehead.
2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation
This stimulation is targeted toward the vagus nerve. The vagus extends from the brainstem all the way down to our abdomen – therefore, it communicates with lots of muscles and organs down its length.
3. Remote Electrical Neuromodulation
This fairly popular type of device stimulates the peripheral nerves in the arm. The general goal is to block the pain signals from ever reaching the brain.
4. Single-Pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
This specific device doesn’t target any particular nerve, unlike the rest of the devices. It targets the brain in a more general kind of way.
External Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (e-TNS & TENS)
Supraorbital stimulation also known as external trigeminal nerve stimulation (e-TNS), can be referred to as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The doctor will recommend the exact level of micro impulses for each migraine warrior to change the activity of nerve pathways.
The micro impulses target the upper branch of trigeminal (supraorbital) nerves, which are shown to be involved in causing migraine headaches. This type of stimulation is delivered via a device, commonly called by its brand name – Cefaly.
Cefaly device is diamond-shaped and palm-sized, so it’s very convenient. The wearable device attaches magnetically to the self-adhesive electrode, which is positioned in the center of your forehead. The pain should subside after one hour.
The FDA-approved e-TNS device is placed on the head to treat migraine – once you feel the attack coming on, but the device can be used during a migraine attack to relieve pain. Cefaly is available with a doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter in various pharmacies to prevent headaches and migraine.
Even if you can get Cefaly (and Cefaly Dual) without a prescription, you shouldn’t use it before you consult with your doctor. The doctor will suggest the appropriate stimulation level according to your migraine symptoms and migraine frequency.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
Vagus nerve stimulation is a self-administered approach with a handheld device. The device delivers electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve travels from the head all the way down to your abdomen.
So, the migraine warriors place the device over the vagus nerve on the side of their neck. The goal of the device is to provide migraine management, in a sense to provide pain relief. GammaCore Sapphire is an FDA-cleared device for non-invasive VNS therapy that requires a prescription from the doctor.
The device is rechargeable and designed for long-term use – and to activate it, your doctor will provide you with an authorization code delivered via an RFID card. GammaCore Sapphire is used against the side of the neck, below the jawline – so it gives the vagus nerve small pulses.
From early 2021, GammaCore was cleared for acute treatment of migraine in adults and adolescents from the age of 12 to 17 – since it was originally only cleared for adults, no prescription required. Do note that using GammaCore can cause short-term side effects like redness on the neck, tingling sensation, and dizziness.
Remote Electrical Neuromodulation (REN)
Using a neuromodulation device is pretty popular nowadays for the acute treatment of migraine. Some patients are worried that using electric stimulation directly on their head may make the migraine pain even worse.
So, remote electrical neuromodulation5 is different because this approach stimulates the peripheral nerves of the upper arm. The idea is to reduce the pain with modulation of part of the nervous system responsible for pain. You can use the neuromodulation device on a single arm, but you can switch if you prefer it that way to treat your migraine.
A remote electrical neuromodulation device activates the part of the brain that does pain control, and it blocks the pain signaling to stop the migraine attack. This type of stimulation is used as soon as the pain occurs by placing the neuromodulation device on your upper arm.
A neuromodulation device using this type of stimulation is called Nerivio, and it’s FDA-cleared for adolescents and adults. What is even better, this wearable device can be controlled via an app.
However, Nerivio neuromodulation devices are only available with a doctor’s prescription. The doctor will also prescribe the amount of stimulation you need for the treatment of migraine, according to the severity of your symptoms.
Single-Pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS)
Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation6 – sTMS for short, is a potential preventive treatment for migraine. It could cut down your migraine days – you just place the sTMS device on the back of your head and activate it.
The device gives out short magnetic pulses that target layers of your skull, scalp, and meninges, as well as the superficial layers of the cortex. As the pulse goes through the cortex, it modulates the neurons responsible for causing migraine pain.
A device using sTMS is called eNeura sTMS mini. It’s an FDA-cleared device, previously known as Spring TMS, it’s battery-powered and handheld – it can be used for the treatment of migraine, and its prevention.
The patients will place the eNeura on the back of their head and press it firmly against the base of the skull for acute treatment of migraine. Then, they should turn it on to let out a magnetic pulse and disrupt the abnormal activity in the brain that is causing migraine.
Alternative Migraine Treatment For Migraine Pain
Some treatments are effective in the treatment of episodic and chronic migraine, but they are considered alternative because they aren’t medication or they involve surgery, like ONS. So, let’s talk about ONS for a bit.
The occipital nerve stimulation – ONS for short, is a little different than the rest of the devices in this article. This is an implantable device – it requires surgical implantation of a small ONS device that sends electrical impulses to the occipital nerve.
The occipital nerve is located at the back of the head, a little above the neck. This is not an acute treatment – it’s intended for people living with chronic migraine, usually those that have tried many treatments for pain relief and didn’t find any success yet. The ONS treatment is different because it involves surgery – but luckily, the procedure is reversible if need be.
A company from the Netherlands is currently working on implantable thin bioelectronic foils for neurostimulation. The goal is to disrupt the brain process that causes a migraine attack so the person gets fewer migraine attacks in general.
Tracking Apps – Are They Useful?
Migraine can be debilitating for patients – and getting fewer migraine days each month is the ultimate goal. Taking acute medication for episodic and chronic migraine does the job, but getting fewer days of migraine is what we all yearn for. Pain meds can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects, like medication overuse headaches.
So, tracking apps can offer the technology for understanding our triggers and migraine patterns better. This treatment can help reduce migraine – all without the unnecessary medication side effects. Some of the best apps for migraine would have to be Migraine Buddy, Headache Log, and Manage My Pain Pro. And all without getting the health insurance involved!
Devices For Migraine Headaches – Bottom line
To conclude, the market is full of treatment options for acute migraine relief. Even if you are a chronic migraine warrior, electrical stimulation can help you abstain from drug administration. Do note that everything stated in this article is for educational purposes only, you should always consult with your doctor before you decide on any of the devices to treat your migraine.
The most bothersome symptoms – pain and nausea, can be avoided with acute treatment of migraine. However, always seek professional medical advice before you start using any new migraine treatment. Our goal is to prevent migraine and symptoms safely!
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