Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Technology eases migraine pain in the deep brain

Date:
April 30, 2012
Source:
City College of New York
Summary:
New brain stimulation technology can prevent debilitating migraine attacks from occurring, a new study suggests. The technique, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), applies a mild electrical current to the brain from electrodes attached to the scalp.

Migraine Therapy: Computer model of the distribution of electrical current in the brain's pain network (sub-cortical and brainstem structures) during transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
Credit: Image courtesy of City College of New York

Migraine pain sits at the upper end of the typical pain scale -- an angry-red section often labeled "severe." At this intensity, pain is debilitating. Yet many sufferers do not get relief from -- or cannot tolerate -- over-the-counter and commonly prescribed pain medications.

Recently, a team of researchers that includes Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering in CCNY's Grove School of Engineering, has shown that a brain stimulation technology can prevent migraine attacks from occurring. Their technique, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), applies a mild electrical current to the brain from electrodes attached to the scalp.

"We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain," said Bikson. The researchers aimed to tap into the so-called pain network, among other areas, a collection of interconnected brain regions involved in perceiving and regulating pain.

Professor Bikson and his colleagues, including Dr. Alexandre DaSilva at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Dr. Felipe Fregni at Harvard Medical School, found that the technology seems to reverse ingrained changes in the brain caused by chronic migraine, such as greater sensitivity to headache triggers.

Repeated sessions reduced the duration of attacks and decreased the pain intensity of migraines that did occur on average about 37 percent. The improvements accumulated over four weeks of treatment and they persisted.

In pilot studies, the effects lasted for months. The only side effect subjects reported was a mild tingling sensation during treatment. Professor Bikson expects that a patient could use the system every day to ward off attacks, or periodically, like a booster.

The team's computational models show that tDCS delivers therapeutic current along the pain network through both upper (cortical) and deep brain structures. They will publish their results in the journal Headache.

Thirty-six million Americans suffer from migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Of these, 14 million of them experience chronic daily headaches. "The fact that people still suffer from migraines means that the existing treatments using electrical technology or chemistry are not working," said Professor Bikson.

Existing brain stimulation technologies can help relieve a migraine already underway. But those afflicted with chronic migraine pain may suffer 15 or more attacks a month, making treatment a constant battle.

The other techniques also have drawbacks -- from heavy, unwieldy equipment to serious side effects, such as seizures. Some only stimulate the upper layers of the brain. Others reach deep brain regions, but require brain surgery to implant the electrodes. The tDCS technology is safe, easy to use, and portable, Professor Bikson said. "You can walk around with it and keep it in your desk drawer or purse. This is definitely the first technology that operates on just a 9-volt battery and can be applied at home." He envisions future units as small as an iPod.

The next step will be to scale up clinical trials to a larger study population. A market-ready version of the tDCS is still years away. "There's something about migraine pain that's particularly distressing," noted Professor Bikson. "If it's possible to help some people get just 30 percent better, that's a very meaningful improvement in quality of life."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by City College of New York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexandre F. DaSilva, Mariana E. Mendonca, Soroush Zaghi, Mariana Lopes, Marcos Fabio DosSantos, Egilius L. Spierings, Zahid Bajwa, Abhishek Datta, Marom Bikson, Felipe Fregni. tDCS-Induced Analgesia and Electrical Fields in Pain-Related Neural Networks in Chronic Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02141.x

Cite This Page:

City College of New York. "Technology eases migraine pain in the deep brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430192625.htm>.
City College of New York. (2012, April 30). Technology eases migraine pain in the deep brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430192625.htm
City College of New York. "Technology eases migraine pain in the deep brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430192625.htm (accessed July 13, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Free Medical Marijuana For Some Berkeley, Calif. Residents

Free Medical Marijuana For Some Berkeley, Calif. Residents

Newsy (July 10, 2014) Berkeley city council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring dispensaries to give away a portion of the marijuana they sell each year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Overdose Crisis Hits US as Heroin Becomes Drug of Choice

Overdose Crisis Hits US as Heroin Becomes Drug of Choice

AFP (July 10, 2014) Across the US, heroin use has more than doubled in the past decade, and so have overdose deaths. Some states have declared it a full-blown crisis and increased resources to fight the highly-addictive drug. Duration: 02:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$1.4B E.U. Brain Project Has Scientists Slug It Out In Media

$1.4B E.U. Brain Project Has Scientists Slug It Out In Media

Newsy (July 9, 2014) An open letter signed by hundreds of European neuroscientists has kicked off an ugly debate over how more than a billion dollars should be spent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Recreational Pot Sales Start in US State of Washington

Recreational Pot Sales Start in US State of Washington

AFP (July 9, 2014) Recreational pot sales gets going in Washington, making it the second US state after Colorado to allow people to buy marijuana in specialized stores. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com


Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins