Migraines: Magnetic Device Offers Pain Relief
A magnetic handheld device that sends pulses into the head could transform the lives of thousands of migraine sufferers.The treatment, called “transcranial magnetic stimulation”, is held behind a patient’s head and with the click of a button sends brief magnetic pulses into the brain, helping to disrupt the painful headaches.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), that looks at the safety and suitability of new treatments, has now issued guidance saying the device can be recommended to certain patients through the NHS.
They also add that extra care should be taken to explain the risks and steps which need to be put in place to record and review what happens.
Wendy Thomas, from The Migraine Trust, said: “This is a new bit of weaponry against migraines.
“The reason it makes a big difference is because there’s not a drug involved, so there are no side effects and if it doesn’t work you just hand the device back.
“It won’t work for everyone, but it will work for a lot of people.”
Eight million people in the UK suffer from migraines, and it’s estimated that 25 million days at work or school are missed every year because of it.
Attacks can last from four to 72 hours, and include throbbing pain in the head, sensitivity to light, and vomiting.
Some 164 patients tried out the transcranial magnetic stimulation as part of a trial, and many have noticed a reduction in their migraines.
Miriam Heyburn has suffered from the debilitating headaches since she was eight years old.
The TMS device she uses has enabled her to go four or five, or even 10 days, without headaches.
She told Sky News: “The migraines feel like you’ve been hit by a juggernaut, everything that’s pleasurable becomes awful, unbearable.
“Light, food, everything. TMS has made a tremendous difference, to know that there is something out there that isn’t a tablet, and that it really works.
“I’ve tried everything: acupuncture, hypnotherapy. And this is the only thing that has actually worked for me.”
The device is seen as a breakthrough for those who find alternative treatments ineffective, or unsuitable, such as during pregnancy.
But at the moment patients in England will only be able to get the treatment if they are referred to a specialist headache clinic, and NICE insist more research needs to be done into magnetic therapy and how it works.