Treating the Chronic Migraine with Neurostimulation
For migraine sufferers who are tired of living with chronic migraine pain and don’t like the side effects often caused by prescription pain medications, a welcome alternative might be a migraine procedure such as neurostimulation to treat migraine pain. Neurostimulation involves using light electrical currents to activate or modulate neurons in the body. Physicians and medical researchers have experimented with neurostimulation for centuries. In fact, Scribonius Largus, physician to Roman Emperor Claudius, first used currents from torpedo fish (a type of electric stingray) to treat headaches back in 46 A.D.
Since then, neurostimulation has been successfully used to treat a variety of medical conditions including spinal injuries, back pain and epilepsy. Now it is being applied in a migraine procedure that provides long-term relief from chronic migraine pain. The procedure has been featured in Cephalalgia, the journal of the International Headache Society.
With the Omega migraine procedure, thin wires are implanted just beneath the surface of the skin in the patient’s forehead and/or back of the head. Although they can’t be seen, these small wires provide gentle neurostimulation to the occipital and supraorbital nerves that can cause chronic migraine pain. The wires are connected to a small battery also implanted under the skin near the upper buttocks. The battery is designed to last up to 10 years and can be recharged wirelessly. Patients are either completely unaware of the implant, or say they only feel a calm, soothing sensation.
The Omega migraine procedure doesn’t limit physical activity — many patients continue to play full contact sports. And because of its superficial location beneath the skin, the implant cannot damage the brain, spine or major nerves or organs.
Patients first undergo a four-day trial and wear the wires and battery externally to confirm that they respond to neurostimulation before the device is implanted. More than 80 percent of the patients who undergo the trial respond to neurostimulation, and tend to reduce the majority or all of their migraine pain.
Patients who have had the Omega migraine procedure have been able to completely stop taking migraine medications or significantly reduce the amount they take. They stopped needing to visit doctors or the emergency room because of frequent migraines. Best of all, they can enjoy life without worrying about being sidelined by chronic migraine pain.