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New treatment for migraine sufferers

The solution in question is a portable device which is placed on the scalp and emits magnetic pulses to the brain, called a transcranial magnetic pulse (TMS). While NICE is quick to say the results are limited and much more research needs to be carried out to ensure it is beneficial and cost-effective for the NHS, the results have shown some promising information:

164 people were treated with a single TMS upon a migraine attack with aura

39 per cent were free of migraine after just two hours

75 per cent of those who received repetitive treatment reported a reduction in migraine attack frequency

However, other experts are being more cautious in their praise - TMS is often used as a tool for researchers to stimulate certain parts of the brain, and has been suggested before as a treatment for chronic pain and depression - but there are still questions around how the treatment works and why it has an effect.

What is migraine?

Contrary to popular belief, a migraine is much more than a simple headache. Each migraine attack can include a combination of symptoms including headache, nausea, light sensitivity, dizziness and slurring of words. "Migraine with aura" is the term used when there is a warning sign before the attack itself, which usually manifests as flashing lights or blind spots in the sufferer's vision, and stiff shoulders and neck.

The condition affects one in four women, and one in 12 men. The exact cause it still not yet known, but there are a number of triggers such as caffeine, chocolate and alcohol, and it's thought that it is primarily hormone-driven due to the gender imbalance - a theory supported by data which suggests that migraine-prone transgender women undergoing chemical transition report an increase in migraine frequency.

The Migraine Trust has recommended that anybody wishing to try the new device speak to their GP and ask to be referred to a specialist migraine and headache clinic. While studies are still underway, researchers believe this may be a suitable treatment for those who do not respond well to traditional medical solutions.

Resources

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271487.php

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25811460

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Migraine/Pages/Prevention.aspx

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2011/07/why_do_women_get_more_migraines_than_men.html

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