People all over the world have their lives interrupted by painful migraines, and some people experience more than 14 migraine days a month! It’s no wonder that so many researchers are desperately seeking a treatment or cure. It seems like every day there’s a new, strange potential migraine treatment being explored.
Whether it’s ear insufflation, lidocaine applied through a nasal catheter, or your regular, everyday vitamins, there are plenty of possible treatments being investigated. And now, there’s another one: A patch that delivers mild electric shocks.
Electrical Treatments Aren’t New, But the Patch Is
This isn’t the first time that mild electric shocks have been held up as a potential migraine treatment. In 2013, gammaCore made the news as a potential migraine treatment. This device is about the size of an electric shaver and has two electrodes that the user presses to their neck in order to deliver a two-minute-long electric shock. Although this device did well in clinical trials, even four years later, it is still not FDA-approved for use in the United States.
In 2016, Cefaly made news with a slightly more convenient format: A “tiara” that delivers shocks to the trigeminal nerve. This device is available and has proved effective, but is still inconvenient for regular use — not only is a sci-fi tiara not generally considered acceptable wear in public, but the electrodes have to be replaced monthly.
Yet, researchers continue to search for the ideal way to administer this effective electric shock treatment in a convenient way. The latest advance is a wireless patch for the upper arm. This patch has proved to be effective on approximately half of people if applied within the first 20 minutes of migraine symptoms. In fact, an incredible 30% of people experienced no migraine pain at all within two hours of receiving the treatment.
Treat the Pain, or Prevent the Pain?
The wireless patch is currently in trials, and its creators hope it will be available within a year. But in the end, treatments like these are abortive treatments, intended to reduce pain once that pain has already started. And if you aren’t sure what the source of your migraine headaches is, treating the symptom instead of the underlying cause could simply be masking a larger problem.
For example, migraines are a common symptom of TMJ, a jaw disorder with plenty of other unpleasant symptoms, and some serious health risks down the line if untreated. If you experience any other symptoms of TMJ, such as jaw pain, popping or clicking sounds during jaw movement, or back and neck pain, it’s possible that TMJ is the source of your headaches. If TMJ is the root of the problem, TMJ treatment will be the most effective way to resolve all of your symptoms, not just migraines.