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.
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.