Lifetime

Headache

Posted on: June 6, 2011

Even powerful prescription drugs don’t always relieve the pain of headaches. Now, there’s a new experimental kind of therapy that may help severe headache sufferers when nothing else works.

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS

RESEARCH SUMMARY

 

TOPIC:          HEADACHE IMPLANT

REPORT:      MB #3308 

BACKGROUND: Migraines and other types of headache — such as tension headache and sinus headache — are painful and can affect a person’s quality of life. Migraine symptoms include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Headache remedies include various types of pain relievers. Migraine treatments may also include anti-nausea drugs and medications to prevent or stop headaches.

 CDH: Chronic daily headache (CDH) refers to a broad range of headache disorders occurring more than 15 days a month (in many cases daily) for a period of at least three months. There may be as many as 5 percent of the population encountering severe headaches on a daily or near-daily basis. Patients with CDH often overuse pain relief medication, which can precipitate or sustain the frequency patterns seen with CDH. 

(SOURCE: National Headache Foundation)

 ZAPPING YOUR HEADACHE: Now, there is some relief for patients who cannot seem to shake the pain away. A new, investigational implant delivers electrical impulses, targeting the nerve problems that trigger headaches. To relieve the pain, electrodes are connected to nerves that exit the brain. An implanted battery then sends signals through the neck to turn off the pain. A neural stimulator is similar to a cardiac pacemaker. Because the device is permanently implanted inside the body, the patient can go back to all their normal activities after surgery. “The companies that make the pacemakers make these neural stimulators,” Erich Richter, M.D., a neurosurgeon fromLSUHealthSciencesCenter, explained to Ivanhoe. “They’re the same technology as the cardiac pacemakers. I usually find that it’s easier for the patients to get their head around it to just talk about it as just ‘neuro-pacemakers.’ It’s very well-developed technology at this point. Some of them are MRI-compatible even. All of them can go through any kind of security system. You can go swimming. It’s completely inside. The skin is closed. One of the technological advantages over the last five to 10 years is that these kinds of pacemakers are made rechargeable.”

 FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Leslie Capo, Media Relations

LSUHealthSciencesCenter

(504) 568-4806

LCapo@lsuhsc.edu

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