Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave the green light to first device for treatment of migraines, the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) -- which has many experts calling a new era for the millions of American who suffer the pains caused by the disease.
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"Millions of people suffer from migraines and this new device represents a new treatment option for some patients," Christy Foreman of the FDA said in a statement.
The Cerena TMS will only be available to patients by way of prescription, but the device sounds pretty simple to use - you simply hold the device with both hands against the back of your head, and press a button. This will then release a pulse of magnetic energy through the skull and into the occipital cortex. In stimulating this part of the brain, the pulse will supposedly lessen or completely stop the pain brought on by the migraine.
According to the FDA, migraine headaches include intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one specific area of the head, along with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. The FDA estimates that about 10 percent of people around the world are affected by migraines, and women are three times more likely to experience them than male their counterparts. We can't imagine why.
Left untreated, a migraine can last anywhere between four and 72 of the worst hours of your life. About one-third of migraine sufferers experience something called an aura, which is not nearly as mystical as it sounds and is defined as "a visual, sensory or motor disturbance immediately preceding the onset of a migraine attack." The Cerena TMS is approved for use after the initial onset of pain from migraine headaches preceded by an aura.
Just because the FDA approved Cerena TMS, that won't mean anyone can easily land a prescription for the device. To start, you have to be at least 18-years-old, and you can't have any magnetic metals in your head, neck, or upper body. Individuals who have pacemakers, deep brain stimulators, or other forms of implanted devices are also prohibited from using the Cerena TMS, as are those with epilepsy or a history of seizures.