Electrical impulses replace drugs for the treatment of migraine

Between 15% and 20% of adults suffer from migraines on a regular basis according to specialist figures. Treatments are often complicated or ineffective, leaving patients alone with the pain of a migraine. An Israeli researcher is now performing tests based on electrical impulses for migraine. This solution, although surprising, seems to be very interesting according to the tests carried out on the patients.

Dr. David Yarnitsky of the Technion School of Medicine in Haifa, Israel, and his colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Neurology. “

La migraine, un mal durable

Migraines are recurrent headaches characterized by moderate or severe throbbing or throbbing pain, which often occurs on one side of the head. Sensitivity to light and sound can also occur with migraine, as well as nausea and vomiting. Migraines are estimated at about 12% of the US population, and are about three times more common among women than men.

When it comes to preventing or treating migraine, analgesics are often our first reflex. This includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), triptans (including sumatriptan and rizatriptan), and beta-blockers. However, as with all medications, there is a risk of side effects.

Have positive effects

Dr. Yarnitsky and his colleagues believe that their new electrical stimulation patch could offer a non-drug alternative for people with migraine, having found that it is just as effective as pain medications.

To test its effectiveness, it conducted tests on 71 patients suffering from intense migraine from 2 to 8 times per month. They had not taken any medicine for two months. As soon as a migraine triggered, they put the patch on their arm and used it for 20 minutes. The devices were programmed to give a false electrical impulse at a very low level or a real one at four different levels of intensity. A good way to evaluate the part played by the treatment. Result? 64% of patients receiving the true impulse reported a significant decrease in pain caused by a migraine.

Patients can control the intensity of the electrical impulse themselves with an application that can be installed on iOS, Android or Windows Phone. The patch does not seem to have a negative effect according to the various tests conducted. The electrical impulses are painless, you can hardly feel a tickling on the arm. Above all, the results reveal that this treatment would be as effective as taking a drug. Good news when more and more patients reject the use of pills.

An unexpected effect of technology?

This announcement may well surprise more than one skeptic. Indeed, we tend to consider that new technologies can cause migraines. For example, electromagnetic radiation is recognized as a cause of migraine, mood change or sleep disorder. Those who are victims are therefore more likely to rely on alternative doctors such as acupuncture to heal. Medical recommendations are often even to move away from screens and other electronic devices.

The limitation of electrical impulses for migraine

For now, the technology is still in the testing phase.

“People with migraine are looking for non-drug treatments, and this new device is easy to use, has no side effects and can be used in professional or social settings.”

Dr. Yarnitsky pointed out a limitation of the study, namely that many participants receiving simulated stimulation stopped before the required 20-minute treatment period.

“This may indicate that they knew that the stimulation was not active, and therefore they were no longer blinded to the study, which is a challenge in any simulated stimulation study,” says Dr. Yarnitsky.


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