A wearable wireless patch on your arm may help reduce migraine pain as well as drugs, said a study is published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Study author David Yarnitsky, of Technion Faculty of Medicine in Haifa, Israel, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board for Theranica, maker of the stimulation device, said:“People with migraine are looking for non-drug treatments, and this new device is easy to use, has no side effects and can be conveniently used in work or social settings.”
The device uses electrical stimulation to block the pain signals from reaching the brain and it uses rubber electrodes and a chip on an armband. It can be controlled by a smartphone app. Unlike in the past, the new device has done away with wires which were attached to the head during the study.
The new study on the wireless patch involved 71 people with episodic migraine from two to eight attacks per month and had not taken any preventive medication for migraine for at least two months. Participants were wore the device to their upper arm soon after the start of a migraine and kept it on for 20 minutes, without taking any medications.
The devices were programmed to randomly give either a placebo, or sham, stimulation at a very low frequency or one of four levels of active stimulation and it was designed to be not painful. A total of 299 migraines were treated with the device during the study.
During the active stimulation at the three highest levels, 64% of people had a reduction in their pain by at least 50% two hours later, compared to 26% of people during the sham stimulation. Those who started with moderate to severe pain, experienced their pain being reduced to mild or no pain in 58% of people at the highest level of stimulation, compared to 24% of during the sham stimulation.
Among the same group of participants, 30% said they had no pain after receiving the highest level of stimulation, compared to 6% of those receiving the sham stimulation. “These results are similar to those seen for the triptan medications for migraine,” Yarnitsky said.
The researchers found that within 20 minutes of the stimulation, 47% reduction in pain was achieved if the treatment started early, compared to 25% who started after 20 minutes. One limitation of the study was that during the sham stimulation participants often stopped the treatment before the 20-minute period was done, he said.
“This may indicate that they knew the stimulation was not active, and thus they were no longer blinded to the study, which is a challenge in any sham stimulation study,” he added.