Magnetic Pulse Heads Off Migraines

New device prevents pain without the side effects of drugs
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2008 10:13 AM CDT
About one in eight Americans suffers from migraines, and 20-30% of them experience "aura' symptoms before the headache's onset. In a trial of a new device, 40% remained pain-free.   ((c) Avenue G)
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(Newser) – For some of the 13% of Americans who suffer from migraine headaches, help might be only a button-click away, Gizmag reports. A new hand-held device works by sending a painless magnetic pulse through the brain, effectively scrambling the signals that would otherwise lead from the "aura" phase of the condition to the nausea-tinged, throbbing headache that inevitably follows. In a trial, nearly 40% of sufferers saw their headaches drop 50% or more.

"Aura" describes the sensations of flickering lights, tingling, or other visual interruptions that precede headaches in about one-third of migraine sufferers. The new device, developed at the Ohio State University Medical Center, would benefit only that subgroup, but the Ohio team's research could help those studying the aura-less headaches. The self-administered magnetic-pulse treatment had no serious side effects