EASE THE PAIN
There’s help for migraine sufferers.
And it doesn’t mean swallowing a pill, taking an injection or adopting some special diet.
Cefaly is a cranial analgesic electrotherapeutic device that can be worn by migraine sufferers for short periods.
Dr. Nancy Kelley, headache specialist, Geisinger Health System, doesn’t proclaim it as the best treatment available for migraine sufferers.
But studies have shown it can help some people.
“It electronically stimulates a nerve,” Kelley said.
Specifically, the Cefaly transmits electric impulses to the trigeminal nerve, described as an Endorphin-producing mechanism carrying information about touch, temperature, perception and pain from the face and scalp to the brainstem.
Kelley said the device has been recently approved by the FDA, but as yet has not been prescribed for Geisinger migraine patients.
“I have not prescribed it,” Kelley said. “I have gotten inquiries.”
Kelley said the Cefaly certainly offers some degree of relief for migraine sufferers and she expects to eventually use it to treat people.
A recent study revealed the average number of migraines per month for patients who underwent the treatment were reduced from seven to five days per month.
“Some people in the study were high responders,” she said. “They might have gone down from seven (per month) to two.”
The Cefaly is a lightweight device that can be worn comfortably.
A self-adhesive electrode connected to the device allows for treatment.
“The idea is to stimulate it (nerve) 20 minutes a day,” Kelley said.
The device can work to either prevent migraines by increasing the production of endorphins and raising the threshold of pain or blocking pain to provide relief during migraine attacks.
Kelley noted that medications ranging from anti-epileptic drugs to anti-depressants have been used to help migraine sufferers. In somes cases, even antihistamines and muscle relaxers have helped relieve the pain of migraines.
“Some patients respond well to anti-nausea medications,” she added.
Kelley said people who suffer from migraines are usually those who are sensitive to sensations such as light, sound and smell.
More than half of people who underwent a recent study with Cefaly reported they would like to continue using it for treatment.
A small number of people have reported some level of discomfort from the device.
“Some don’t like the sensation of the electrical current. For some, it’s like a tingling sensation,” she said. “Some people say they become very sleepy when they use it.”
About 1 percent of those in a study claim the treatment resulted in a headache.