UK & World News
Migraines: Magnetic Device Offers Pain Relief
A magnetic handheld device that sends pulses into the head could transform the lives of thousands of migraine sufferers.
The treatment, called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) , involves holding the device behind a patient's head and clicking a button to send brief magnetic pulses through the skull.
The pulses affect neurons in the brain, helping to disrupt the painful headaches.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which looks at the safety and suitability of new treatments, has now issued guidance saying the device can be recommended to certain patients through the NHS.
The treatment will only be available to patients referred to specialist clinics, but it is hoped it may help those for whom other remedies have proved ineffective.
TMS could also give hope to pregnant woman, who are advised against using some migraine medications.
NICE has also recommended that extra care should be taken to explain the risks and steps which need to be put in place to record and review how the treatment progresses.
Wendy Thomas, from The Migraine Trust, said: "This is a new bit of weaponry against migraines.
"The reason it makes a big difference is because there's not a drug involved, so there are no side effects and if it doesn't work you just hand the device back.
"It won't work for everyone, but it will work for a lot of people."
Eight million people in the UK suffer from migraines, and it's estimated that 25 million days at work or school are missed every year because of it.
Attacks can last from four to 72 hours, and include throbbing pain in the head, sensitivity to light and vomiting.
Some 164 patients tried out the transcranial magnetic stimulation as part of a trial, and many have noticed a reduction in their migraines.
Miriam Heyburn has suffered from the debilitating headaches since she was eight years old.
The TMS device she uses has enabled her to go up to 10 days without headaches.
She told Sky News: "The migraines feel like you've been hit by a juggernaut, everything that's pleasurable becomes awful, unbearable.
"Light, food, everything. TMS has made a tremendous difference, to know that there is something out there that isn't a tablet, and that it really works.
"I've tried everything - acupuncture, hypnotherapy - and this is the only thing that has actually worked for me."
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