Scientists have developed a wireless patch that when worn on the arm helps reduce migraine pain without the need for drugs.
There have been previous patches of these kind, but they had to be attached to the head and needed lot of wiring. The new wireless patch can be controlled through a smartphone app and according to scientists it uses electrical stimulation to block the pain signals from reaching the brain. The patch uses rubber electrodes and a chip on an armband.
The study involved 71 people with episodic migraine who had two to eight attacks per month and had not taken any preventive medication for migraine for at least two months. Participants were asked to apply the device to their upper arm soon after the start of a migraine and use it for 20 minutes. They were not supposed to take any medications for migraine for two hours.
The devices were programmed to randomly give either a placebo, or sham, stimulation at a very low frequency or one of four levels of active stimulation. The stimulation was designed to not be painful. A total of 299 migraines were treated with the device during the study.
During the active stimulation at the three highest levels, 64 per cent of people had a reduction in their pain by at least 50 per cent two hours after the treatment, compared to 26 per cent of people during the sham stimulation. For those who started with moderate to severe pain, their pain was reduced to mild or no pain in 58 per cent of people at the highest level of stimulation, compared to 24 per cent of those during the sham stimulation, the study found.
In the same group, 30 per cent said they had no pain after receiving the highest level of stimulation, compared to six per cent of those receiving the sham stimulation.
The researchers also found that starting the stimulation within 20 minutes of the start of a migraine was more effective, with 47 per cent reducing pain when starting early, compared to 25 per cent who started after 20 minutes. The study was published in the journal Neurology.