New experimental migraine treatment

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October 6, 2013, 8:04 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Rachel McNeill) -  Headaches are unpleasant, but migraines can be downright unbearable.

Migraine symptoms include throbbing pain, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. It's a condition that plagues 28-million Americans.

A new, experimental procedure could bring relief to some patients.

"I went to a neurologist. I was hospitalized. They put me on preventative medicines. We tried acupuncture and even Botox. I tried biofeedback and nothing was working," said Jenny Bruner, a migraine patient.

For close to 7-years, Jenny Bruner dealt with debilitating daily migraine headaches.

"I didn't see any hope. It was so frustrating just living in constant pain," Bruner continued.

She met with more than a dozen doctors and tried 62 different medications trying to get her life back.

"Unbearable because you are not able to eat because you are nauseated all the time."

Bruner is one of millions of people who suffer from chronic migraines. According to the American Migraine Foundation, 12-percent of the population is affected and three times more women have migraines than men.

The 32-year-old traveled to try and find relief in something a friend found online- a neurostimulation treatment branded as Transforma.

"They are somewhat skeptical that a procedure like this would work for them and we understand that because they have literally been through everything," said Dr. Jack Chapman, intervention pain specialist.

In the procedure, doctors implant tiny leads beneath the skin. They connect to a small battery pack implanted in the lower back. The battery pack sends small electrical pulses to two areas of the head and the patient can adjust the strength of the pulses based on the level of pain.

"We are turning on a small electrical signal to the nerve to basically to shut off or change that nerves transmission of the pain that people interpret as a headache,” Dr. Chapman continued.

"It feels kind of like you are getting a massage and some people describe it as champagne bubbles," Bruner described.

Bruner says the treatment changed her life. She felt better in a month, experienced fewer headaches, and was actually able to start dating again. Now, she's married.

"So I was just so very thankful that this worked.”

Neurostimulation has been around for many years but it's still considered experimental by many insurance companies because it has not yet been approved by the FDA for the treatment of migraines.

This type of therapy is usually for patients like Bruner who have failed all traditional treatments.

Tags: FDA, treatment, migraine, NBC News, rachel mcneill, Transforma, Neurostimulation, Jenny Bruner, Doctor Jack Chapman, pain intervention specialist
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