SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Millions of people suffer from migraines every year. While there's no known cure, there's a new drug-free treatment on the market.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of a new magnetic device, called the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) that will hopefully help fight off the debilitating pain.
Christine Oinenen Ehren of Saint Paul knows that pain. She's had migraines since she was a child. She said they steal her hours and sometimes her days.
"It's like your senses get turned up to like eleven and suddenly I can't stand the smell of the shampoo in my hair."
While medication works most of the time, Oinenen Ehren said she's interested in the Cerena TMS.
The new device is the first device approved by the FDA for treatment of migraines with auras.
While the company that makes the device, eNeura, did not have pictures or video of the Cerena TMS on its website, spokesperson Claire Sojda said the Spring TMS, shown on the company website, is the second generation of the device, sold in Europe.
Sojda also said The Mayo Clinic was one of sixteen centers that participated in the study of the Cerena TMS.
Dr. Bret Haake, a neurologist with Health Partners, was not involved in the study. He said, "I think it's exciting because it's very, very safe and it gives us a non-medication alternative."
Haake continued, "A lot of headache disorders are actually worsened by over-using medications and so anything we can to do to get people to use less medications for their headaches tend to be better."
How does it work? Held against the back of the skull, the device sends a pulse of magnetic energy through the skull into the occipital cortex of the brain.
Haake said, "The theory is by changing the electric field in the nerve cells in the brain that it can change the chemical balance and the way the nerve cells are communicating with each other and that can tilt the balance and make the headache go away."
It's migraine relief without medication.
Oinenen Ehren said, "It would be great to have anything that would salvage me more time."
Sojda said that eNeura is still determining when the Cerena TMS will be available in the United States.
It will only be available by prescription.