Stimulating Your Brain: Neuromodulation as Migraine Treatment

When it comes to treating migraines, I focus on non-drug therapies, natural supplements, and daily-life habits. Our bodies are incredibly powerful and can heal themselves when given the right internal environment.  Neuromodulation may be an up-and-comer in the repertoire of alternative therapies for migraines. If you have tried neuromodulation and would like to share your story with me, please reach out through my site or social pages. I want to hear about your experience.

In this article, I’m going to go over what these devices are and how they work.  I want to take a closer look at the research done in the last few years.

What is Neuromodulation and How Does it Work?

A neuromodulator is a device that uses temperature-altering, magnetic, or electrical currents to alter or change the brain’s activity.  The device is meant to “turn down the noise” in the brain’s signals. Hyperactive signals are thought to be a reaction or prodrome to migraines.  The device is often surgically implanted, but there are also some portable options. There are a few devices currently approved by the FDA, and there is one noninvasive neuromodulator approved for use without a prescription by the FDA. 

What Does the Research Say?

There are currently no guidelines for researching the efficacy of neuromodulation devices. Research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry reviewed multiple clinical trials that used noninvasive neuromodulation devices to treat migraines and cluster headaches.  Researchers identified clinical trials for acute migraine treatment, prevention, and acute treatment for cluster headaches in their data mining efforts.  Their conclusion was these clinical trials closely followed the guidelines placed on other clinical trials for medications, making them reliable for research.

That means these clinical trials are the right place for researchers to start if they’re looking to learn if noninvasive neuromodulators are effective. The scientific community has already determined the safety of the noninvasive devices, saying they “have the potential to fundamentally change the future of therapeutic conversions.” Still, the real question is, does it work?  The more invasive forms of neuromodulation – those surgically implanted – come with safety and risk concerns and much more understanding about efficacy.

Who Should Consider Neuromodulation for Alternative Migraine Treatment?

Whether you try the non-prescribed neuromodulator, a surgical implant, or a portable device, it’s important to note the FDA has labeled them all “minimal risk,” which means it is likely a safe alternative therapy for migraines.  However, surgical implants always come with additional safety risks, so be sure to further research that process. 

The following people would likely benefit the most from this alternative therapy:

  • People with chronic conditions who cannot take additional medications.
  • Those who have an intolerance to taking medications or supplements in the form of pills or capsules.
  • New migraineurs who would like to avoid taking potentially harmful and addictive medications.
  • People who are looking for ways to take themselves off dangerous medications.

 What Are the Alternatives?

The downside to neuromodulation for migraines is the cost. It is more expensive than other forms of treatment, but that is likely because it is still new. Over time, as more devices are developed, the prices will come down.  Until then, if you’re not quite ready to talk about neuromodulation, the alternative therapies could be things like:

There are many natural, safe, and effective ways to manage and treat migraines acutely and preventatively.  Neuromodulation is an excellent alternative for migraineurs looking to avoid taking medications, extra supplements, or just want to see if it helps! If you’re struggling through this journey and need some additional support, please reach out. I help people all over the globe in their migraine journey.  Maybe I can help you too. 

 

Sources:

Practical Neurology

American Migraine Foundation

Current Opinion in Neurology

American Headache Society and Medscape

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