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HeadWay, Issue #105 -- Electricity and Magnets for Migraine?
March 21, 2013
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In this month's issue:
Electricity and Magnets for Migraine?
Recent articles not to miss...
Say what?! Macrosomatognosia
Electricity and Magnets for Migraine?All of a sudden we're hearing a lot more about using electric currents and magnetic currents to fight migraine, and related conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, and other pain conditions. But are these therapies really useful? Or are we just witnessing the latest fad?
We're going to take a quick look at some of the most common treatments of this kind for migraine. But first, here's the good news AND bad news.
The good news? These treatments have developed over many years of careful testing. They show a lot of promise for the treatment of migraine, and some are already widely available.
The not-so-good news is that these devices are often quite unregulated, and so - yes, there is still a lack of good protocol, and you do need to do your homework before you grab any old device.
Here are some of the common categories of treatment:
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): ECT has been around now for 75 years. Although once considered a very brutal treatment, it's now much safer. ECT delivers electric currents to a patient under general anaesthesia and is used to treat some mental illnesses including severe depression. Although probably the best known, it is not used to treat migraine. In fact, there have been rare cases where migraine has been induced by ECT.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): TENS uses a low voltage current for pain treatment, including migraine treatment, treatment of cancer pain, and muscle pain. Electrodes are placed on the skin, and an alternating current is delivered. There has been very little study on TENS for migraine, but so far it looks like it could work as a possible preventative. A current example of such a device is the Cefaly Anti-migraine Device.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): tDCS devices, while similar to TENS devices, use a direct current. Again, it uses a very small current (far far less than ECT). Some doctors are already using tDCS to treat pain such as migraine pain, tinnitus, and post-stroke symptoms. More on tDCS here.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): TMS is currently a much more common treatment than the two above. The TMS devices use magnetic currents to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This treatment is commonly used for depression. Trials for TMS in migraine treatment have been positive. An example of a TMS device for migraine is the SpringTMS Total Migraine System.
Remember, this is just a brief overview. Even within each type of treatment, there are various types and methods. This is one reason why it takes so long to test them scientifically and find which works best for which condition. Meanwhile, do your homework and talk to your doctor.
Recent articles not to miss...Here are a few posts from Headache and Migraine News that you might find useful:
Say what?! MacrosomatognosiaMacrosomatognosia is a symptom that sometimes accompanies migraine. Basically, it means that you feel like part of your body is larger than it really is. This can be hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced it. Often it's a body part such as the head or hands. Other times, migraineurs explain that they feel tall when they aren't. This symptom is not found only in migraine - for example, some patients who have had stroke or patients with Parkinson's disease have experienced macrosomatognosia.
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