New device for migraines is no cure but may help some. The studies are lukewarm.
The Food and Drug Administration is convinced by Belgian studies that this could be helpful to those who suffer from this common type of headache with throbbing pain, nausea and light and sound sensitivity.
The FDA approved Cefaly, a battery-operated band that goes across the forehead with self-adhesive electrodes. The idea is to electrically stimulate for 20 minutes a day the trigeminal nerve, which senses pain in the face and parts of the head.
The approval is based on a clinical trial of 67 adults who had at least two attacks a month. After going without medication for three months, they got either the actual device or a placebo device.
Those who got the actual device needed less medication and had fewer days with migraine.
The idea for this is not new even though this device is and it looks futuristic. As soon as this story came out, many who are used to seeing quack devices or treatments that promise more than they deliver were dubious. This is only one placebo controlled study with only 67 people. That’s not much. A large survey (2313) of people who rented the device resulted in only about a 50% success rate. It appears to be safe but not always effective for some people. Still, perhaps for those in which it does work, it will provide welcome relief. It’s pricey at $300 and some people find it uncomfortable; probably more comfortable than a migraine though.
Thanks to multiple people who sent us this story.