Treatment Devices for Migraines

This month the FDA updated their consumer information on migraines to include 2 devices approved for the treatment of migraines:


– the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, and

– the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator.


Those who suffer from migraines know the intense throbbing or pulsing pain that can last up to 72 hours, and is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and/or vomiting. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, and women are three times more likely than men to have migraines.




These devices are great news for migraine suffers because the currently approved migraine medications can often have serious side effects that vary from patient to patient. “Although these migraine drugs are quite effective, they are not for everyone. Some can make you tired, drowsy or dizzy. Some can affect your thinking. And some migraine drugs can cause birth defects, so pregnant women can’t use them,” says Eric Bastings, M.D., an FDA neurologist.


Although TENS treatment for pain has been around for a while, Cefaly was the first TENS device to be approved for use as a preventative measure, before the onset of a migraine. It can be used daily and studies have shown that it reduces the number of days that patients have experienced migraines.


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According to the FDA, Cerena’s SpringTMS can be used as soon as the patient feels the start of a migraine or the beginning of migraine pain. Up to one third of migraine sufferers have “migraine with aura.” Auras are visual disturbances such as blind spots or flashing lights that occur before the onset of the migraine pain. The Cerena was the first device approved for pain relief for migraines with aura.


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Laurie Breen

Laurie Breen is a freelance writer well-versed in research communications and grant writing. She received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Smith College and has worked previously at the University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research in Brisbane, Australia. Her favorite conversational topic is "antibiotic-resistant bacteria," making her a big hit at parties.