Pharmacology has played a dominant role until the last century, when we started to treat disorders with what could be called “new trend of medicine”: electroceutics, a system that treats illnesses through electricity instead of chemicals.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new device in this field: a tool that prevents migraine by electrically stimulating the nerves in the cranium. The device is manufactured by the Belgian company STX-Med, and is already approved for commercial sales in Europe, Canada and Australia.
Cefaly, a battery powered device that looks like a tiara, can be used with daily sessions of 20 minutes. The FDA believes that this treatment can help patients suffering from migraine who can not tolerate or do not respond to medication.
The device works by stimulating the trigeminal nerve, the largest cranial nerve, which carries sensory information from the face to the brain, which has also been linked to headaches. According to the website of Cefaly, its mechanism is based on the “gate theory” of pain. By providing sensory input to the nerves, the device maintains essentially a locked gate at the entrance of the neural pain. The sensory stimulus replaces the stimulus of pain, which is transmitted to the brain of different nerve fibers.
The FDA approval is based on several studies conducted in Europe. A study of 67 patients with migraine, published last month in Neurology, found that patients who used Cefaly recorded a decrease of headaches during a month compared with patients who used a placebo device. However, in a survey of user satisfaction, only 54 percent of patients who used a tester said that it would actually purchased. On the other hand, these users have also been shown to have used the machine for about half of the recommended time. This demonstrates, perhaps, the fact that patients who suffer from migraine headaches feel more “reassured” by a pill.
Source image: breakthroughs.kera.org