If you could get rid of just one day of migraine agony, would you? Of course you would. But what’s the best way to do it?
One of the new treatments for migraine that is being developed, and even used today, is vagus nerve stimulation.
Now this type of treatment has actually been around for a while. A device is implanted that stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs on two sides of the body from your brain stem through your neck, chest, and abdomen. This type of treatment is used for hard-to-treat cases of epilepsy and depression.
But the latest thing is non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation, which means no surgery, and no implants.
A company known as gammaCore has developed such a device, which is already sold in Europe and Canada, though not yet approved in the United States.
So far, the device has certainly helped people with both migraine and cluster headache. And the bonus is that the treatment is very well tolerated, with few side effects. Plus, it takes less than 2 minutes to use.
A new study of the device showed some improvement in patients (see Chronic migraine headache prevention with noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation). After 2 months, almost 10% of the patients had a 50% treatment response. They basically had a day or two that were migraine-free, which otherwise would not have been. (These were patients chronic migraine, so originally they had at least 15 days with migraine attacks per month, some with attacks almost every day)
The interesting thing about this study was that patients continued to improve over 8 months. After 6 months, patients had 6-7 more days symptom-free. And after 8 months, 7-8. Would the improvement continue? It looks like it might.
So researchers are preparing for longer and better trials.
To see what using the device is like, take a look at this video: