New hope is on the horizon for many who suffer from cluster headaches. Dr. Noah Rosen, director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, NY reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new device, gammaCore. This can be used to treat the rare and very severe cluster headache.
New Technology for Sufferers of Cluster Headaches
There aren’t that many sufferers of the problem known as cluster headaches, but the few who do will attest that they are extremely excruciating. Dr. Rosen says that:
“They [the headaches] affect about 1 in 2,000, are disabling, and poorly understood.”
Certain medications such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) are often prescribed for severe headaches. However, they do not always work for cluster headaches. Additionally, this drug can’t help those who have them six or more times a day.
GammaCore is a noninvasive handheld device that helps reduce pain from a cluster headache by transmitting electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve. This is a large nerve that connects the brain to the colon. The mild electrical stimulation reaches the nerve through the skin on the neck.
The gammaCore device can’t be used by patients with active implantable medical devices. These include pacemakers and hearing aid implants and stents, metal plates, or bone screws near the neck. The device also isn’t for patients who have had surgery to cut the vagus nerve. Nor is it for those with clinically significant high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, for pregnant women or children. Patients cannot use the device while using any portable electronic device, including cell phones.
ElectroCore, a U.S. based neuroscience and technology company, is the creator of the gammaCore technology. The device is already available in certain parts of the world including Europe. At the moment, the gammaCore is not available in the U.S. However, it is expected to be introduced to the United States sometime later this year.
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