Migraines... Up to one in twelve people suffer from them... More than half are women.
Katrina Rowe and Taryn Silver are two of the unlucky ones... Their migraines became so debilitating the pain would leave them bed-ridden for days.
“Made studying impossible and getting to see my friends or going to work it made everything so much more difficult,” says Taryn.
Taryn is a 22-year-old classical music student... Night time teeth grinding caused her severe migraines so she resorted to relying on heavy medication for relief.
“I'd often find they'd help in the beginning and then after I would suffer from a lot of different side effects… one medication ruined my circadian rhythm and I ended up being wide awake til about three in the morning,” says Taryn.
“Painkillers will not take it away will just suppress it til it's gone the migraine has to run its course,” says Katrina.
That was before discovering a new medical device that's raising eyebrows... Both for it's Star-Trek appearance and promising results.
“I was a bit sceptical but thought I'd love to give that a go,” says Katrina.
It's called the Cefaly and it works by sending electrical impulses to the part of the brain which stimulates the nervous system and that is responsible for pain relief... Patients can set it to three levels… One for pain, for prevention, and stress.
It's really a funny sensation, you get a sort of light tingling and what happens is you use it for about 3 minutes and then you stabilise it and then keep it at that level,” explains Taryn.
“The latest study that was published in neurology suggests that it works very well. It reduces the frequency of the headaches and the incidents of the headaches by up to 25 per cent, 26 per cent so it's as effective in many ways as the medications that have also been studied,” says Dr Rose.
Dr Leonard Rose from the Melbourne Pain Management Clinic says electrical nerve stimulation is nothing new but the Cefaly makes it more accessible and easier to use. He along with headache specialist Doctor Peter Selvaratnam have been trialling it on their patients.
“There's very good evidence that it is effective on the nervous system and the treatment has been around for many, many years and it's been known to be effective on a whole range of pain conditions,” says Dr Rose.
“I found with patients with certain types of migraines, like episodic migraines and neck related headaches, jaw related headaches, have found it beneficial,” says Dr Selvaratnam.
“It helped to break the cycle and because it's not a drug I was free to use it as often as I liked,” says Taryn.
“The real advantage of the device is that there's almost no side-effects,” says Dr Vandenheede.
Belgian neurologist Doctor Michel Vandenheede initiated a world-first controlled study into Cefaly neuro-stimulation for migraine pain and while it was a small study, monitoring 67 patients, the results were extremely positive.
“At least 50 per cent reduction in migraine frequency… another finding of the study was that it reduces drastically the use of analgesic in migraine patients,” says Dr Vandenheede.
For Katrina, who has suffered with migraines for 20 years, it's meant getting a migraine a fortnight to…
“I won't get them half as much anymore, you know maybe once every two months instead,” says Katrina.
It costs around $400 and it's helped Taryn get back on song.
If you can avoid being on medication then that's a really wonderful thing,” says Taryn.
“It's not going to work for every person who tries it but for those people in whom it works it's going to be convenient, it's going to be safe and it's going to be effective,” says Dr Rose.
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