When a migraine strikes, it can be debilitating.
The pain can be unbearable and treatment can either be hard to find or cause side effects as bad as the migraine itself. However, a recent study revealed that a new experimental device could bring much-needed relief in the future.
The device, a patch with a battery, electrodes and a computer chip that can wirelessly communicate with a mobile phone, is designed to stimulate nerves under the skin to block the pain signals (caused by a migraine) from reaching the brain.
Dr. Ajay Suman, Medical Director of the Pain Clinic at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, likes the idea. “With the move away from opioids, as well as the scientifically unproven use of opioids for migraines, finding non-prescription alternatives is extremely important,” he says. “Not only can this drive costs down for health care by providing a non-pharmacologic alternative to migraines, it can be utilized in emergency rooms or even in homes.”
Dr. Suman says that medications prescribed to treat migraines often fail. “After medications fail or are unable to be prescribed because of multiple adverse interactions (depression, high blood pressure), steroid injections and/or Botox are the next available treatments. However, these too can have side effects, primarily among those patients with diabetes and cataracts.” Botox, he says, is also extremely expensive and can be difficult to gain approval for.