Migraines affect 12 percent of the American population and hit women more often than men. If you don’t get them, you likely know someone who does. Now there’s a brand-new device that claims to help sufferers prevent the pain without drugs.
“There’s nothing you can do to stop it. It’s just a hammer at your head,” said Tracey Goodman.
When a migraine strikes, Goodman says there’s not much she can do but shut the blinds to the painful light.
“It just hurts really, really bad. It’s really intense,” said Goodman.
She’s been dealing with the debilitating, days-long headaches since she was 16-years-old. She’s tried acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy, along with a number of migraine drugs.
“I’m really not a fan of any of these medications. Just, the side effects are too costly on my body,” said Goodman.
Now she has a space-age-looking headband called Cefaly. It’s the newest treatment for migraine sufferers. It’s the first device approved by the FDA aimed at preventing migraines.
It works by sending an electronic current through the skin, to the nerve associated with migraines. Users wear it 20 minutes a day.
A clinical study found migraine sufferers experienced significantly fewer days with migraines per month and used less medication than those who used a placebo device.
“There’s a lot of research being done, but when it’s really released to the public, FDA approved, this is a big step,” said Dr. Marc Lenaerts, a neurologist with UC Davis Health.
Dr. Lenaerts thinks this is only the beginning of using devices instead of medications to treat migraines. That’s key, because he says medicating more can actually make your migraines chronic.
“When your frequency of migraine episodes increase, the proper response is not to take more pain pills, but it’s to do more prevention of the condition,” said Dr. Lenaerts.
Cefaly is brand new to the United States, but Dr. Lenaerts has already prescribed a few to patients.
Goodman got her prescription from her doctor in San Diego, then bought the $295 device online from the manufacturer in Belgium.
“Money was no option when it comes to my health,” said Goodman.
Disposable electrodes will run you about $150 a year. Cefaly tells us it will be another year or two before it will be covered by insurance.
“I have not even needed to pick up a pill. I have not needed an injection,” said Goodman.
“An important question is how does that fare at the moment you have a headache? Does that reduce the pain?” asks Dr. Lenaerts.
That hasn’t been fully researched yet, but Goodman has tried it.
“I’ve also done it with the onset of a migraine in the middle of the day and it’s stopped it in its tracks,” said Goodman.
The FDA said no major side effects were reported in the clinical study or a larger customer satisfaction study done on the Cefaly device.