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3 New Treatments Offer Hope for Migraine Sufferers
Until recently, they have had to rely primarily on prescription drugs for relief.
But now there are three new non-drug treatments for migraines.
The first is Cefaly, a headband-like device that runs on a battery and sits across the forehead and over the ears. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in March 2014.
"This device is a promising step forward in treating migraine headaches, as it addresses an important part of what we believe triggers and maintains a migraine attack," said Dr. Myrna Cardiel in a Web MD article.
Dr. Cardiel is a clinical associate professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center and NYU.
The Cefaly will be available by prescription only.
The second new treatment will also require a prescription. It’s for people whose migraines are preceded by aura, a sensory disturbance that occurs right before an attack.
It’s called the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS), which the FDA approved in December 2013.
Patients use both hands to hold the TMS against the back of their head, then press a button so that it can release a pulse of magnetic energy.
This pulse stimulates the brain's occipital cortex, which may stop or ease migraine pain, according to the FDA.
“The Cerena TMS is another tool in the battle to relieve migraines," said Dr. Mark Green in a HealthDay article. "Experience with TMS over the past few years have shown that these agents have the potential to reduce the pain of an attack without the use of medications, or in addition to medical treatment."
Dr. Green is director of Headache and Pain Management at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
The third treatment, unlike the first two, is available now and does not require a prescription.
It’s an unusual soft-tissue stimulation technique developed by Paul Bacho, an athletic trainer in Cleveland, Ohio who treats patients suffering from chronic pain.
“What I do is have the patient lie on a massage table, on his or her stomach, so I can access specific areas of the back, shoulders and neck,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s a technique where I push and pull certain muscles in these areas in order to rebalance them.”
Most people with chronic headaches, he said, suffer from muscular imbalance because of lousy posture, and this imbalance causes tight muscles that restrict blood flow and push onto nerve endings.
“That blood flow restriction and pressure on nerve endings is what causes most chronic headaches,” he said, adding that he initially developed his technique for tension headache sufferers.
“It works for people with migraines, too,” he said, “provided those migraines are triggered by tension.
“Muscular tension is a common trigger for migraine headaches.”
For more information about migraine headaches, visit migraineresearchfoundation.org