Houston Chronicle: Spring resident finds hope in new migraine treatment device
By Chevall Pryce
Spring resident Leah Cravens wanted to have a baby. With her husband diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, rendering him infertile, an in vitro fertilization was her only choice.
The problem? Chronic migraines have been plaguing Cravens for more than 20 years, the medicine for which would be unsafe during her pregnancy.
After looking for alternatives to her usual migraine medication, Cravens was referred to Randolph Evans, a neurologist in the Houston area. Evans prescribed her the gammaCore, a handheld device that stimulates the vagus nerve — a nerve located in the neck — electronically to stop migraines and headaches.
The gammaCore is used by pressing the device to the neck near the vagus nerve after applying gel to the area, Cravens said. The device’s intensity can be modified as needed.
Cravens said she hasn’t felt any side effects from her personal use and even saw an overall decrease in the duration of her migraines the more she used gammaCore, some lasting as short as 10 minutes.
Anna Esparham, pediatric headache doctor at Children's Mercy Kansas City and director of the Headache Treatment Center, said although the device has not been approved by the FDA for use on children, it has helped her child patients.
“Several of our patients respond fairly well to it and that it does decrease their acute migraines,” she said. “Some of them don’t need pharmaceutical intervention, they don’t need a migraine cocktail, they don’t need nerve blocks, they don’t need anything that’s invasive or that has a high side effect profile.”
“The cool thing about the vagus nerve is that it’s multi-modal across different networks because it is basically kind of that bidirectional highway between the body and the brain, so the body and the central nervous system,” Esparham said. “If you think of it that way it can connect to the pain networks, it connects to the mood network, the memory network and the inflammatory network and the immune network.”
Read the full story via the Houston Chronicle
Learn more about Headache Services at Children's Mercy