Health Desk: 09 April 2018: A new device reports that self-administered magnetic pulses from a hand-held device may help head off debilitating migraines, researchers report. This new way to approach migraine headaches is called “single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation” (sTMS).
Neurologists and psychiatrists have long used the technology to diagnose and treat patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had already approved the eNeura SpringTMS device to treat the kind of in-progress migraines that are preceded by an “aura” of flashing lights and visual disturbances. Having found that the device can also prevent up to half of all migraines from occurring in the first place, the FDA has now approved it for both prevention and treatment.
“The brain of a person with migraine, which is a neurologic disease with a genetic basis, is hyperexcitable,” said lead researcher Dr. Amaal Starling. “In general, if we can reduce hyperexcitability, we can stop and/or prevent migraine attacks.” Transcranial magnetic stimulation does that by using energy created by a magnet to “change the electrical environment of neurons or brain cells,” she explained.
Starling is an assistant professor of neurology with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. She led a team that studied the effectiveness of the device, and the findings were published in the March issue of the journal Cephalalgia. The research was funded by eNeura, Inc., manufacturer of the device.
Migraines are the sixth-leading cause of global disability, affecting roughly 1 in 10 individuals. That includes an estimated 38 million people in the United States. The headaches are three times more common among women than men, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.