For people who suffer from migraines and cannot tolerate medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has passed two non-invasive options for migraine relief. Adults can find relief with either the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator or the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device. Michael Hoffmann, a biomedical engineer with FDA, says these devices are great since there are patients who cannot tolerate anti-migraine drugs.
“A drug may have the potential for systemic side effects because it’s ingested and metabolized. It may also have a variety of side effects that vary from person to person,” Hoffmann explains. “Patients have been looking for alternative migraine treatments. Because these devices aren’t ingested or metabolized like drug therapies, they don’t necessarily have the same types of side effects.”
Patients who feel a migraine coming on, hold the device against the back of the head and press a button to release a very short magnetic pulse to stimulate the brain’s occipital cortex. On the other hand, Cefaly has been approved as a preventative treatment, to be used daily, for patients to use before the onset of a migraine. This is a headband worn across the forehead that stimulates one of the large nerves in the head, commonly associated with migraines. “It’s a set-time therapy—running for 20 minutes and stopping automatically,” Hoffmann says. These devices present another choice that patients can discuss with their doctors, Hoffmann says. “Now patients have more options and hopefully can find the one that works best for them.”