A novel drug-free migraine treatment, remote electrical neuromodulation (REN), is effective in reducing migraines frequency, a new study finds. REN works by stimulating upper-arm peripheral nerves to induce conditioned pain modulation, which is a pain management mechanism. The REN device is non-invasive, wireless, and controlled by a smartphone.
A study published in the journal Headache enrolled 248 participants who were randomized into a group receiving REN every other day and those receiving a placebo stimulation. Most participants (85.9%) were female, as the condition is two-to-three times more prevalent in women than in men. Nearly half of the participants (40.8%) used a preventive medication in addition to REN.
On average, REN decreased the number of migraine days by 4.0 days per month. Researchers separately evaluated the efficacy of REN for treating episodic and chronic migraine. Among those with episodic migraine, which is characterized as headaches occurring fewer than 15 days a month, REN decreased migraines by 2.3 days a month.
REN was also effective in reducing chronic migraine by 3.0 days a month. This type of migraine is defined as headaches on at least 15 days per month for at least 3 months, with the features of migraine on at least 8 days per month.
"These results indicate that REN is a safe and effective preventive treatment for migraines, offering a much-needed non-pharmacological alternative either as a stand-alone preventive therapy or in combination with pharmacological therapies to further enhance preventive impact," the study authors concluded.
Previous research found that REN is as effective as usual care for treating migraines. In the study, 66.7% of the participants using REN achieved pain relief at 2 hours post-treatment compared to 52.5% of participants in usual care.
Migraine is a neurological disease affecting at least 39 million Americans, but the actual number may be even higher because many people do not receive a diagnosis, according to the American Migraine Foundation.