methods of providing electrical stimulation for migraine relief involved
use of wires that needed to be attached to the head.
- The new
device has a patch that can be worn around the arm and can be controlled
easily using a smartphone.
wireless device uses electrical stimulation to block the pain signals from
reaching the brain.
A new, wireless patch that could be worn
around the arm may help reduce the pain caused by migraine
, as effectively as drugs.
"People with migraine are looking
for non-drug treatments, and this new device is easy to use, has no side
effects and can be conveniently used in work or social settings," said
study author David Yarnitsky, MD, of Technion Faculty of Medicine in Haifa,
Israel, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board for Theranica, maker of the
‘Remote, non-painful electrical stimulation of the upper arm reduces migraine pain in people with acute migraine headache.’
The patch uses rubber electrodes and a
chip on an armband and it can be controlled by a smartphone app. The device
uses electrical stimulation to prevent pain signals associated with migraine
from reaching the brain.
methods of electrical stimulation for pain relief utilised devices that needed
wires and were attached to the head.
Testing the Patch
The study involved 71 people who had
episodic migraine with two to eight attacks per month. They had not taken any
preventive medication for migraine for at least two months.
As soon as an attack of migraine starts,
participants were asked to place the device to their upper arm and use it for 20 minutes. They were
not supposed to take any medications for migraine
for two hours.
The participants were randomly assigned
to a placebo group where they were given a sham stimulation at a very low
frequency or to a group of active stimulation with one of four levels. The
stimulation was designed to be non-painful.
During the study period, a total of 299 migraines were treated using the device.
At the three highest levels of active
stimulation, 64% of people had a reduction in their pain by at least 50%, two
hours after the treatment, compared to 26% of people during the sham
Among participants who received highest
level of stimulation, 58% of those who started with moderate to severe pain had
their pain reduced to mild or no pain , in comparison with 24% of those who underwent the sham
Around 30% in the same group said they
had no pain after receiving the highest level of stimulation, compared to 6%
who received the sham stimulation.
"These results are similar to those
seen for the triptan medications for migraine," Yarnitsky said.
The researcher team also found that
starting the stimulation within 20 minutes of the start of a migraine was more
Around 47% of participants reported
reduction in pain after early stimulation, compared to 25 percent who started
stimulation after 20 minutes.
One limitation of the study was that
during the sham stimulation, participants often stopped the treatment before completion of the
"This may indicate that they knew
the stimulation was not active, and thus they were no longer blinded to the
study, which is a challenge in any sham stimulation study," Yarnitsky said.
"These results need to be confirmed
with additional studies, but they are exciting," Yarnitsky added.
The study is published in the online
issue of Neurology
, the medical journal of the American
Academy of Neurology.
is a chronic condition characterized by headache
nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. A typical migraine
headache is often unilateral -occurs on one side of the head and is throbbing
or pulsating in nature.
are more prone to migraine headaches than men. Its prevalence is about 20% in
females and 6% in males.
Migraine is more prevalent than diabetes
combined, with an estimated global
prevalence of 14.7%. It is
considered to be the seventh most disabling disease among all diseases.
Chronic migraine affects approximately 2%
of the world population.
Migraine attacks often start at puberty
and affect mostly those aged between 35 and 45 years, though it can occur much earlier.
- David Yarnitsky et al. Nonpainful remote electrical stimulation alleviates episodic migraine pain. Neurology; (2017) doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000003760
- Facts and figures - (https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/migraine-what-is-it/facts-figures/)