FDA approves new device to prevent migraine headaches - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

FDA approves new device to prevent migraine headaches

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Migraine headaches affect 12 percent of the population in the United States and hit women more often than men.  Now, a brand new device is helping migraine sufferers prevent the pain without the side effects of drugs.

When a migraine strikes, Loma Portal resident Tracey Goodman says there's not much she can do but shut the blinds to block out the painful light.

“It’s just a hammer in your head.  I just hurts really, really bad and it’s really intense,” Goodman said.

Goodman’s been dealing with debilitating, days-long headaches since she was a teenager.

She's tried acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy, along with a number of migraine drugs.

“I’m really not a fan of any of these medications, the side effects are too costly on my body,” said Goodman.

A couple months ago, Goodman heard that a new medical device had been approved by the FDA for treating migraines.

The space-age looking headband is called Cefaly.  Goodman obtained a prescription from her doctor and then ordered the device online directly from the manufacturer in Belgium.

Right away, it made a big difference.

“It’s prevented my migraines and I’ve also done it with the onset of a migraine in the middle of the day.  It stopped it in its tracks,” said Goodman.

The device sends electronic pulses to the trigeminal nerve where migraine headaches begin.  Users wear the device for 20 minutes a day.

“You can feel it in the nerves. It's amazing,” said Goodman.

A clinical study found sufferers experienced significantly fewer migraines and used less medication.

UC Davis neurologist Dr. Marc Lenaerts thinks this is only the beginning of using devices instead of medications to treat migraines.  That's because he says medicating more can actually make your migraines chronic.

“When your frequency of migraine episodes increase, the proper response is not to take more pain pills, but it's to do more prevention of the condition,” said Dr. Lenaers.

The Cefaly device costs about $300 and disposable electrodes will cost about $150 per year.

“The cost is nothing for the peace of mind that you get,” said Goodman.  “I have not even needed to pick up a pill.  I have not needed an injection.  I've not needed anything.”

Cefaly was approved by the FDA n March and the company says it has sold about 2,000 devices in the United States so far.

It may take another year before insurance companies start covering the costs of the medical device.
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