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New Medical Device for Migraine Headaches: Is It Right for You?

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Migraine headaches are characterized by intense throbbing pain, often on one side of the head. Associated symptoms are often nausea, vomiting, and worsening of the headache pain with light or sound. Other less frequent but associated symptoms can be changes or loss in vision, dizziness, numbness on one side of the body, or severe vertigo. The headache can last from a few hours up to 72 hours at a time. When a patient has two or more migraine headache attacks per month, they could benefit from preventative medications.

Migraine headaches are more common in women than men. As a neurologist, I see how often they go undiagnosed or recognized. One reason may be that all of the above symptoms do not have to be present in order for migraine headache to be diagnosed. By the time most patients reach a neurologist, the migraine headaches are often severe, occurring frequently and not responding to over-the-counter medications.

Several FDA approved prescription medications are available to effectively prevent migraine headaches, but they have side effects that create challenges for patients like weight gain, dizziness, sedation and word-finding difficulty.

Cefaly is the first medical device authorized by the FDA for the prevention of migraine type of headaches. Cefaly is a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device specifically designed to deliver painless electrical impulses to the branches of the trigeminal nerve of the face. The trigeminal nerve and its branches in the brain and face are involved with triggering and the pain of migraine headaches.

You may be a great candidate to talk about this device with your physician if:

1. You have chronic migraine headache disorder:

Chronic migraineurs have two or more headaches per month. In many of these patients the migraine is prolonged and doesn't respond completely to medications.

2. Your main goal is to reduce the number of headaches you are having each month.

In a small published clinical study, Cefaly showed to reduce the average number of migraine headaches per month by two. Almost 40 percent of the patients saw a 50-percent reduction in the number of their headaches.

3. You may still need therapy to treat an acute migraine headache.

In clinical studies, Cefaly did not reduce the intensity of pain. This device is not approved for treating an acute migraine headache attack. Talk to your physician about both over the counter and prescription options to treat a migraine headache when it first starts.

4. You are experiencing side effects to prescription medications for prevention of migraine headaches.

The electrical stimulation to the forehead from the sensor is painless and well tolerated by most patients. No serious side effects were reported from the device. It can be safely combined with other medications to prevent migraine headaches.

If you think you have migraine headaches or if you are having more than two migraines per month, I recommend you see a neurologist for your treatment options.

Romila "Dr. Romie" Mushtaq, MD is a neurologist with expertise in the field of mind-body medicine -- a branch of medicine that promotes the science behind mindfulness based techniques. She is also a hatha yoga and meditation teacher. Dr. Romie helps clients heal by as a physician and health and wellness life coach at the Natural and Integrative Medical Center in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Romie writes at www.brainbodybeauty.com, where you can sign up for weekly mantras for mindful living. You can follow Dr. Romie on Twitter, Facebook and connect with her on LinkedIn. Her guided meditation CD, "Connect To Joy: Guided Meditation to Quiet the Mind" is now available on iTunes.

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