A new magnetic stimulator to relieve pain associated with migraine headaches may offer hope to millions of migraine sufferers. Recently, the FDA approved the Cerena transcranial magnetic stimulator (TMS) for people who suffer from migraine headaches that are preceded by aura, which can include a tingling sensation in the arms or legs and/or visions of flashing lights, zigzag lines or blind spots. While only 20 percent of migraine sufferers have an associated aura, these patients suffer significantly, which can affect their daily activities and quality of life.
With a doctor’s prescription, the TMS is available to patients 18 and older. To use the device, the patient holds it against the back of the head and presses a button that allows a quick release of magnetic energy, which stimulates the brain’s occipital cortex. This magnetic energy may help relieve migraine pain.
Promising Results in Magnetic Stimulator Study
In an FDA-conducted study, 201 patients with moderate-to-strong migraine with aura tested the magnetic stimulator when they felt a migraine attack. Within two hours of using the TMS, 38 percent reported relief from migraine pain, compared to 17 percent of patients who did not use the device.
For patients who do prefer not to use medication as a treatment for migraine headaches with aura, the Cerena TMS can be an alternative. While it may be a bit awkward to use , the device provides a studied alternative therapy with low occurrence of side effects and good efficacy. Future versions may be more portable, which would make them easier to use.
Find help for hard-to-treat migraines and headaches caused by neurological and psychiatric illnesses at the Headache Center. Request and appointment online or call 516-562-3822.