New treatment FDA recently approved is making a difference for local woman dealing with migraines

LEAWOOD, Kan. -- If you suffer from migraines, you know the debilitating pain can take days out of your life every month.

There’s a new treatment, approved a little over a year ago by the FDA, that some people say gets rid of migraine pain fast and medicine free.

It’s called the gammaCore device, and this little device means big relief for some migraine and cluster headache sufferers.

“It’s an external vagal nerve stimulator so it’s actually a device that provides an electrical shock to the nerve and disrupts the pain pathway.  It also decreases some of the neuro transmitters at the actual brain stem where we believe the migraines stimulate from and it basically stops that cortical spreading of pain,” said Dr. Deetra Ford, a neurologist at the University of Kansas Health System.

Many migraine sufferers have to take medications but not everyone reacts well to the medicines available.

Traci Richardson was one of those patients who didn’t do well with traditional migraine medicine.  Now she uses gammaCore.

“Since I don’t like to take a lot of medicines and I couldn’t tolerate those abortive ones, I figured it was worth a try,” Richardson said.

She’s able to toss the device into her bag, and when she gets a migraine, she holds the gammaCore to her vagus nerve in less than an hour, her migraine is gone.

“It did work, the first time I used it, it was not effective.  Then I tried it again and within twenty minutes the headache was gone so I did it again, a second round on the other side, and then that migraine was gone.”

Richardson says the treatment gives her a tingling sensation, but it’s not painful.  For her it’s been a huge help in managing her migraines.

“It’s been a great breakthrough, I wouldn’t call it necessarily a miracle, it has some problems with its efficacy in terms of it doesn’t work every time, but anywhere from 30- 50 percent of the time, people do get fairly good relief with it and it’s something that doesn’t cause any side effects,” Dr. Ford said.

Insurance doesn’t always cover the device, if it doesn’t, the device can cost $500 a month.

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