Battery-powered tiara zaps your migraines away

FDA-approved Cefaly headband uses electricity to prevent headaches

Published: March 20, 2014 03:45 PM

The newest nondrug option for fending off migraine headaches kind of resembles Wonder Woman’s tiara. The battery-powered device, called Cefaly, delivers a tingling electric current to the nerves linked to migraine headaches, thereby reducing the number of monthly attacks.

The Food and Drug Administration allowed marketing of the prescription-only device last week after reviewing the company’s safety and effectiveness research. In a clinical trial involving 67 migraine sufferers, those who used Cefaly experienced significantly fewer days with migraines per month and used less migraine medication than those who used a placebo device. In addition, a study of 2,313 Cefaly users in Belgium and France showed that 53 percent were satisfied with the treatment.

“While the clinical trial was small, the patient satisfaction survey was sizeable and there were no significant side effects except for local discomfort with use,” Consumer Reports' medical adviser Orly Avitzur, M.D., a board-certified neurologist, said. She said that in December, the FDA allowed the marketing of another device for migraine, though it was for relief of pain, not migraine prevention.

“At this point, I would not change anything if my patients are under a current regimen that is effective,” Avitzur said. “However, these devices may provide additional treatment options for people who cannot tolerate medications or those for whom drugs are not effective."

The device costs $295 and will likely be covered by insurance.

Read about medications such as the antidepressant amitriptyline that are used to prevent migraine headaches, and about effective nondrug preventive strategies. And for information about treating migraine attacks, see our Best Buy Drugs report on triptans.

—Doug Podolsky

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