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An Electric Band May Prevent Migraines

An Electric Band May Prevent Migraines

When Jay Silverheels portrayed Tonto in TV’s The Lone Ranger, he wore a simple headband across his forehead. Johnny Depp amped up the character’s costume and topped off his movie-version headband with a dead crow. Critics said the affectation pained them greatly. But the latest headband to hit the U.S. market—it’s been available in Canada and Europe for some time—may bring much-needed pain relief to the more than 30 million folks who contend with migraine headaches.

Related: New Device Zaps the Pain of a Migraine

This newly FDA-approved, battery-powered device is designed to prevent migraine attacks, not treat them once they’ve started. It’s worn around the head like Silverheels’ headband and during a daily 20-minute session an electrode delivers programmed electrical impulses to branches of the trigeminal nerve that’s located in the center of the forehead above the eyes. This three-part nerve is thought to play a role in triggering migraine and in transmitting the pain sensations it causes.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

Studies show when used over several months the headband cuts the number of headache days in half (that’s a relief) and significantly reduces the use of migraine-attack medication. And just as important—side effects from this novel migraine therapy are rare and minimal. Many migraine suffers can’t stomach potent migraine prevention and treatment medications, which can trigger burning or prickling sensations in hands and feet, chest pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea and rebound headaches. So if you have migraine headaches, ask your doctor about trying this new way to stop the pain before it begins.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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