A new device developed in Belgium could signal the end of migraines for sufferers all over the world. The headband which hooks over your ears and is placed across the forehead, is worn for twenty minutes a day.
The way the headband works is that it sends electrical pulses to the supraorbital nerve. This is the nerve that controls sensation in and around the eye.
According to results from a study conducted by the designer, those people who suffered from the debilitating headaches found that they had reduced by about a third each month.
And the number of people whose migraines were reduced by half or more were also tripled, according to the findings published online in Neurology.
The designer of the device, Professor Jean Schoenen said: “The device consists of a thin silver band that looks like something out of Star Trek. It is hooked over the ears and worn across the forehead like futuristic sunglasses. Patients don it once daily for 20 minutes.”
One of the other benefits of wearing the device is that there are no side effects, associated with taking pain relief.
Prof Schoenen, of Liege University in Belgium said: “These results are exciting because they were similar to those of drugs that are used to prevent migraine. But often those drugs have many side effects and frequently they are bad enough that people decide to quit taking the drug.’
In the study, 67 people who had an average of four migraine attacks a month were followed for four weeks with no treatment. Then they received either the stimulation 20 minutes a day for three months or a sham device where the electric impulses delivered were at levels too low to have any effect.
Those given the stimulation had fewer migraine days in the third month compared to the first – falling from seven to five while there was no change for those given the dummy.
The study also found 38 per cent for those who had the stimulation saw their symptoms halve compared to 12 per cent in the control group.
The World Health Organisation rates migraines as a major cause of disability worldwide and it has been estimated to be the most costly neurological disorder in Europe, with approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 12 men experiencing migraines on a monthly basis.
Migraines can be set off by many triggers, including alcohol, stress, fluorescent lighting and foods such as chocolate, red wine and caffeine, to much sleep or not enough. They have even been linked to hormonal changes while others have argued a fall in air pressure reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Recent research suggests that lower oxygen levels may cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate – triggering a persistent pain. It has also been speculated a drop in pressure affects the fluid protecting the brain inside the skull – leading to increased pressure on brain tissue.
The device, known as Cefaly, is CE marked and costs around £260. It has been submitted to the FDA in the U.S but has not yet been approved.
You can test the device before you buy it. For £43 you can rent the device for 40 days all inclusive. If you purchase the renting amount is deducted from the purchase price.
The study was published in the journal Neurology by the American Academy of Neurology.