Implant To Pull The Plug On Migraine Pain

implant to cut off pain


Implant That Cuts Off Pain (1)

Another hand-me-down tool in the pain management kit for migraineurs but one that shows promise for the chronic migraineur. Patients who have tried almost all routes to seek relief from popping in painkillers and taking prescription opoids, having botox injected, trying hypnosis and biofeedback as well as other alternative therapies like shiastu and autogenic training but have turned to the doctor dismayed with the results now have hope. There appears to be one last technique/tool that some doctors may suggest to such patients. It is not meant for all migraineurs and is suggested on a case to case basis. It is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The device was designed for patients of chronic back pain. But now it is holding hope for migraineurs who have tried everything and have no other corner to turn. According to Jenny Bruner who had been dealing with the onslaught of pain for many years, “I went to a neurologist. I was hospitalized. Then they put me on preventative medicines.  We tried acupuncture, even botox. I tried biofeedback, and nothing was working. I didn’t see any hope.  It was so frustrating just living in constant pain. It’s unbearable because you are not able to eat because you are nauseated all the time.” (2) During her years with the neurological disease she tried as many as 62 different medications with little or no help from any.

However, she did in the course come across a management technique involving neuro-stimulation. The treatment was called Transforma and it gave her considerable relief like no other technique or medication had.

The system involved the implantation of tiny leads just below the skin. These sub-cutaneous leads are connected to a battery pack. This battery is implanted in the lower back of the patients. The battery sends electrical pulses of very low voltage to the areas of the brain that process pain and is involved in pain signalling. The beauty of the system is that the migraineur can adjust the voltage strength according to her/his needs or the level of pain being experienced in a migraine episode. The electrical pulses feel like a mild massage.

According to migraine specialist Dr. Jack Chapman, “We are turning on a small electrical signal to the nerve to basically shut off or change that nerves transmission of the pain that people interpret as a headache.” (3) To Bruner, this has been a life-changing treatment. She has retrieved bits of life that she had to let go off.


  1. Image Credit: Asian Girl With Headache; tokyoboy;; web October 2013;
  2. Relief for migraine sufferers thanks to small electronic device;; Web October 2013;
  3. New treatment helping people with migraines;; Web October 2013;

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Current Through Electrodes To Reverse An Unfolding Migraine: Research

A pain so incapacitating that a possible cure has to match the dramatics to be effective! A team of researchers from CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering have now devised a procedure by which electric current is passed through your brain to undo a migraine attack at it’s prodrome phase.

Sending Electric Currents To The Brain’s Pain Network (1)

The team of biochemical engineers led by associate professor, Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering have clearly demonstrated that brain stimulation technology works. So what is done in this shocking procedure? The technique involves passing low voltage electric current to the brain from electrodes attached to a person’s scalp. The researchers focused on that part of the brain which has a network of interconnected brain regions involved in processing pain signals, called the pain network. To their surprise they found the technique could reverse ingrained changes in the brain caused by chronic migraine.

This procedure applies the principal of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). As per Bikson, “We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain. The fact that people still suffer from migraines means that the existing treatments using electrical technology or chemistry are not working.” (2)

The study found that repeated sessions reduced both the duration and the intensity of pain in close to 40% of the migraineurs. The technique is recommended by Dr. Bikson to be used every day to ward off attacks, or periodically, like a booster. So far, the only side-effect recorded has been mild-tingling sensation in the person during the time s/he receives the procedure.

The researchers are looking forward to widen and scale up there clinical trials to come up with more findings across demographics so that once through te treatment can be made available at hospitals world over.

This new transcranial direct current stimulation (tCDS) has the following advantages over the other cranial nerve stimulation techniques available to medicine:

  • No need for unwieldy equipment
  • No potentially dangerous side-effects such as seizures
  • Stimulation of the deep brain instead of just the upper layer of the brain
  • No need for surgery to reach deep brain region to plant electrodes
  • Portable system and can develop the unit as small as an iPod working on a 9 volt battery.


  1. Image by Victor Habbick;; May 2012;
  2. Technology Eases Migraine Pain in the Deep Brain; Science Daily News; May 2012;

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