A hand-held device that fires a magnetic pulse to the back of the head may offer new hope to migraine sufferers, research suggests.
In tests, the machine, a single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS), delivered pain relief for up to 48 hours with no noticeable side effects.
It was used on patients with "aura" – neurological effects that precede the headache, such as lights or lines in front of the eyes, visual "blank spots", and tingling or numbness. It affects about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of patients.
A group of 201 patients were randomly assigned either to receive treatment or a "sham" machine that produced no magnetic pulse.
They applyied two pulses 30 seconds apart as soon as possible after the onset of aura symptoms.
Of the 164 patients who treated at least one attack, 39 per cent from the sTMS group were pain free after two hours compared with 22 per cent of the "sham" group. Patients rated the device an average eight out of 10 for "user friendliness".