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Migraine Sufferers Find Relief From Handheld Magnetic Device

A handheld magnetic device may be a way for migraine sufferers to take treatment into their own hands. At a congress last week, researchers revealed how three months of treatment with the device relieved or reduced headache pain in 73% of patients treated.

Headache specialists at several clinics around the UK, including in Aberdeen, Bath, Exeter, Hull, Liverpool and London, are prescribing the non-invasive single pulse Spring Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) device, made by eNeura Technology in California.

The new data, from a trial involving 60 migraine sufferers treated with TMS at UK clinics, was presented at the 3rd European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress in London on Friday.

The news comes in the wake of a warning by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in England and Wales, that painkiller overuse can cause headaches.

The TMS device costs about £500 and is about the size and weight of a portable radio. As soon as he or she senses a migraine coming on, the user holds it to the back of the head and pushes a button. This sends a brief magnetic pulse into the brain.

Scientists suggest that magnetic pulses could halt migraines before they get the chance to build. Scientists believe the magnetic pulse somehow short-circuits the electrical storm that builds up at the start of migraine headaches.

The congress also heard how the TMS improved other symptoms of migraine in 63% of the trial participants: symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, memory problems, and hyper-sensitivity to light and noise.

And over half (53%) reported a reduction in the number of headache days.

Andy Bloor took part in the UK trials. He suffers from chronic migraines and says the TMS device worked for him:

"The key for me was using the device quickly - as soon as the migraine started."

He says when he did that, the migraine stopped.

"The plus of the device is it reduces my reliance on strong drugs like cocodamol," he adds, in a report on the congress by the UK Press Association.

Findings from a trial of the efficacy of the TMS device were published in The Lancet Neurology in 2010. They say the device offers efficient pain relief for up to 48 hours after treatment in some patients with migraine with aura, and does not cause any serious side-effects.

Professor and neurologist Peter Goadsby, one of the world's leading headache experts and researchers, was joint chair of the London congress. He told the press:

"For the many migraine sufferers whose medicines just do not do the job, it is exciting to see such an innovative, novel approach to treatment that provides new optimism."

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