Vagus Nerve Stimulation For Cluster Headache and Migraine – without surgery?

Vagus nerve stimulation is not new in cluster headache treatment, or even in migraine treatment.  But it has commonly been accomplished through surgery.  Is there a better way?

The vagus nerve is a very important nerve that extends from the head through the neck all the way down to the abdomen, connecting to important systems along the way.  It runs down each side of the body.  When there’s a disfunction in this nerve, common symptoms could include pain, muscle cramps, and even problems with various key organs.

Though we’re not sure why stimulation of this nerve can fight cluster headache and migraine, we do know that it sometimes workseven in chronic cases.

gammaCore device

Commonly a device is implanted through surgery.  But today, there is increased interest in non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation.

One device being studied is known as gammaCore, developed by the neuroscience company electroCore.

The gammaCore device is a small hand-held unit, about the size of an electric razor.  It’s placed on the neck and turned on for about 90 seconds.

So far, the results have been positive.  Patients have found pain to decrease with a minimum of side effects.

As with any treatment, it doesn’t work for everyone.  But since it involves no surgery and no medications, it’s worth further study.

And further study is what it’s going to get.  Patients with chronic or episodic cluster headache may be eligible for a study in the UK and Ireland.  Researchers want to complete the study early next year.

You can read more about gammaCore here.  Read more about traditional vagus nerve stimulation here.

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5 comments… add one
  • Chris Hawley Oct 19, 2013

    They are doing a study on this stimulator in Iowa city for people who have cluster headaches.

  • Chris Hawley Oct 19, 2013

    University of Iowa hospital and clinics . Neurology department.

  • So Iowa? Anywhere else in the U.S.? I’m in GA, and travel is really hard for me…I don’t think I know how I could get to Iowa, even if I could get into a study of some sort. Plus I have other disabilities, so… I have Chronic Migraine, not Cluster, but I know sometimes they like to do comparative studies… Sorry to ask so many questions here, but my neurologists just know next to nothing so I poke everywhere.

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