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This Wearable Device May Help Alleviate Migraine Even More Than Medication

September 26, 2022

Pop a pill or press a button on an app – both have the same effect on migraine, according to new research.

The study examined the use of remote electrical neuromodulation (REN) delivered through the wearable device Nerivio to address migraine and other pain conditions versus medication.

“We found that the wearable device, which patients put on their upper arm and control through an app on their smartphone, provides an effective non-pharmacological alternative to stopping a migraine,” – said Brian Grosberg, MD, director of the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute Headache Center and primary investigator for the study.

The study was published in the Journal of Pain Management. Nerivio is produced by Theranica, which supported the study.

> Connect with the Hartford HealthCare Headache Center

Even better than medication

The research analyzed four parameters – pain relief, pain freedom two hours later, and consistent pain relief and pain freedom. Results show:

  • 23.1% of patients realized pain relief from REN, versus 19.2% using medication.
  • 62.8% felt significant pain relief with REN two hours after treatment, compared with 48.7% with medication.
  • 64.1% reported consistent pain relief with REN, compared with 57.7% using medication.

“To treat patients with chronic migraine effectively and safely, we must expand the first-line standard care treatment options beyond prescribed medications,” Dr. Grossberg said. “This research provides a strong comparison of REN to prescribed medications, mainly triptans, and reinforces our conclusion that REN provides a much-needed alternative without compromising effectiveness.”

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A safe alternative

This finding is particularly important, Dr. Grosberg noted, since the American Headache Society recently recommended that patients with migraine who need acute treatments regularly should limit medication use.

“This is to avoid medication overuse. Patients should only take medication to acutely treat migraine two days or less a week on average,” he said.

A patient with chronic migraine can experience, on average, four or more headache days a week. Chronic migraine, according to Dr. Grossberg, is characterized by at least 15 headache days a month over a period of three months, of which eight or more days meet criteria for migraine or respond to migraine specific treatments.

> Related: Addressing Safety in Migraine Management

How Nerivio works

Nerivio is a device worn on the patient’s upper arm. When a migraine attack is beginning, the patient activates the REN technology on their phone to alleviate migraine headache and associated symptoms.

“REN triggers electrical signals from the device. These signals are carried by nerve fibers to the brain which then activates the body’s pain control mechanism to shut down transmission of migraine pain signals, providing relief,” Dr. Grosberg said, noting that patients are also encouraged to track their attacks of migraine in the built-in diary on the app. The diary can be shared with their providers for migraine tracking and management.