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New Device Kills Pain From Crippling Headaches

The statistics are somewhat surprising…

According to data from the Handbook of Clinical Neurology and Journal of Headache and Pain, around 64% to 77% of people suffer a headache at some point in their lives.

And each year, between 46% and 53% of people experience a headache.

I don’t know about you… but I’d have guessed that both numbers would be higher.

Obviously, there are varying degrees of seriousness – from occasional mild tension headaches, to more frequent and painful ones. And approximately 12% to 18% suffer from debilitating migraines.

But there are a small number of people who suffer from something even worse…

A Cranial “Cluster” Bomb

Cluster headaches are very rare, affecting just one to three people out of every 1,000.

But those victims endure an ordeal that’s even worse than a migraine.

One sufferer, Paul Alterio, describes the paralyzing feeling: “They just hit really hard. They hit exactly right around the temple area, and it feels like someone is just basically stabbing behind my pupils.”

The solution?

Well, you can’t just pop a pill and expect quick relief.

There’s actually no cure.

Like most illnesses and disease, with cluster headaches, prevention is often better than a cure.

For example, current preventative treatment involves medication like prednisone, ergotamine, or lithium. Patients can also take injections, a nasal spray, or oxygen therapy.

But a new device offers new hope for sufferers…

Push a Button… Banish Your Headache

At Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, doctors have created a neurostimulator, designed to eliminate the pain from cluster headaches before it begins.

And Paul Alterio has become the first patient in the United States to receive it.

The surgical procedure involves implanting the device inside the gum underneath the cheekbone.

A wire is attached to the device that connects directly to the nerves that cause the pain. Using a remote control, the wearer can activate the neurostimulator whenever he or she feels the onset of a headache, which blocks communication between the nerves.


As the Wexner Medical Center’s Dr. Bradley Otto explains, “The nerve control center that sits behind the cheek sinus is involved in the pathway of cluster headaches. So by short-circuiting that involvement, we think it will help to treat cluster headache. The patient has the opportunity to treat their headaches by placing this device up to their cheek, almost like you’re talking on a phone, and to stimulate the device that’s inside the cheek.”

For cluster headache sufferers, the success – and subsequent commercialization – of this self-controlled neurostimulator – can’t come soon enough.

Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

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