Chemist Direct discusses new treatments for migraines available at NHS including transcranial magnetic stimulation

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Chemist Direct discovers a simple hand held instrument exists that delivers magnetic pulses to those suffering from migraines as helpful as other treatments for some people.


New treatments for migraines available on the NHS

Migraine headaches affect over six million people in Britain with nearly 190,000 attacks per day and causing 20 million employees to skip work every year.

When pain is felt in the brain, along the scalp, or in the neck and it lasts for an hour or more it is defined as a headache. Most headaches are undefined and can be caused by such things as too much sun, dehydration or as a side effect of treatment for other ailments.

A headache is generally treated with a regular pain reliever and goes away after a few hours. There are however specific kinds of headaches that portray recurring characteristics such as bilateral pain, a throbbing or pulsating pain accompanied by nausea, and at times light sensitivities or auras. These headaches are known as tension, cluster, or migraine headaches.

The cause of migraines is still undiscovered, but many of the triggers have been identified and can include chemical reactions to food or beverages, fluctuating hormones and environmental triggers that cause the arteries and veins to violently contract and dilate.

Migraine headaches affect over six million people in Britain with nearly 190,000 attacks per day and causing 20 million employees to skip work every year and 5 million school aged children to remain at home on a school day. Without a cure or even reliable medication, the excruciating pain from migraine headaches can last from 4 up to 72 hours.

Common treatments given to those suffering from chronic migraines, besides extra strength pain pills, are triptans found in Imigran or Migraleve, nerve blockers, acupuncture or acupressure and occasionally Botox shots. A new treatment that has been cleared by the NHS is TMS, a non-intrusive magnetic therapy that does not interfere with any of the above medication or treatments.

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation and is administrated through a device that is held on the scalp allowing a magnetic pulse to enter through the skin and penetrate the brain. Though the exact effect on the cells and blood vessels is yet unknown, this TMS therapy has proven to be effective in reducing pain.

Several clinical trials conducted by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have found this the treatment effective in minimising and preventing the onset of a migraine, without causing any serious side effects.

During the clinical trials, over 164 patients were treated with the device, where 39% were pain free after two hours and 30% were pain free even after 24 hours. Even if this is just a temporary solution, this device reduces headache frequency significantly, although the long-term effects will only be known later on.

NICE recommends the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for chronic migraine patients as part of a combination therapy for those who do not respond to other treatments. The number of pulses can be changed – from a single pulse (sTMS) to repeated pulses (rTMS).

The strength, frequency and length of time it is given can also be varied for each individual. NHS patients can also now benefit from TMS if they are under the care of headache specialists that keep detailed records of each patient’s experience to broaden the knowledge base on its effectiveness.

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Samantha Smith
Chemist Direct
+44 1215414952 Ext: 205
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