The device, which just received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is called GammaCore.
People who suffer from a severe form of headache called cluster headaches now have a new, noninvasive treatment option: a mild electrical zap to relieve the pain.
The device, which just received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is called GammaCore. It promises to relieve the pain of cluster headaches by providing electric stimulation when held against the neck.
Cluster headaches aren’t common, but can be debilitating, leaving people in severe pain and unable to function. Less than one percent of the population—primarily men—suffer from them, and most experience them in episodes, disappearing for months then returning day after day.
The GammaCore device interferes with pain signals transmitted through the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and the gut. And it seems like blocking that path can lead to effective relief: A study published in Headache last year found that 27 percent of people with cluster headaches felt better 15 minutes after using it, compared to 15 percent patients who got a placebo.
Previously, the primary treatments for cluster headaches included inhaled oxygen and the medication sumatriptan, according to NBC. Unlike pre-existing remedies, GammaCore can be used as often as you need, isn’t invasive, and doesn’t come with the side effects of other treatments, said Stephen Silberstein, M.D., director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University in a press release.
GammaCore is now on the market in Europe and should hit the U.S. this summer. If you suffer from cluster headaches, you may want to touch base with your doctor now to see if the device may be a potential treatment option for you.