Nondrug Treatment Looks Promising for Migraines

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Nonpainful remote skin stimulation can significantly reduce migraine pain
Nonpainful remote skin stimulation can significantly reduce migraine pain

(HealthDay News) — Remote nonpainful electrical upper arm skin stimulation may be a promising new treatment for migraines, particularly when applied early in an attack, according to a study published online March 1 in Neurology.

David Yarnitsky, M.D., chair of neurology at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, and colleagues tested the effectiveness of the device on 71 migraine sufferers who had two to eight attacks per month and had not taken any medication to prevent migraine for at least two months. Participants applied skin electrodes to their upper arms soon after the start of a migraine.

During the trial, 299 migraines were treated with the device. At the three highest levels of stimulation, 64 percent of people experienced a reduction in pain of at least 50 percent two hours after the treatment, compared with 26 percent of those receiving a sham stimulation. For those with moderate-to-severe pain, 58 percent had their pain reduced to mild or no pain when the highest level of stimulation was used, compared with 24 percent of those receiving sham stimulation, and 30 percent of those who received the highest level of stimulation reported having no migraine pain, compared with 6 percent of those receiving the sham stimulation. When treatment began early, 46.7 percent of the patients had a reduction in pain, compared with 24.9 percent when stimulation was started after 20 minutes.

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"These results need to be confirmed with additional studies, but they are exciting," Yarnitsky said in a journal news release. "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."

Yarnitsky is a consultant to Theranica Ltd., the company that makes the device and funded the study.

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