Are you prone to chronic migraines, but no treatment is satisfactory? The deliverance will perhaps come from a simple armband.
Migraines can be a real pain for those who are prone to them. These intense and disabling headaches today affect 10 to 20% of French people depending on the sources, in particular women, but some sometimes struggle to find a suitable analgesic. For the latter, the solution could well come from a… connected armband controlled by smartphone.
This is the idea of Theranica, an Israeli company spotted by Futura that recently launched its product in the United States. Its objective is to offer a non-drug alternative to current treatments. The effectiveness of traditional analgesics is quite variable depending on the individual and rarely satisfactory; it is then necessary to fall back on drugs based on triptans, a class of very effective molecules, but which presents contraindications and side effects.
To treat these headaches, the firm therefore opted for a connected armband, which seeks to remotely modulate the electrical signals of the central nervous system. It is based on a principle called conditioned pain modulation (CDM). Despite its barbaric name, it’s a simple phenomenon, which you already know: when you have pain in two places, your body will inhibit the pain less intense.
Normally, DCM is a protective mechanism; it allows priority to be given to the most affected parts. But rest assured, this armband is not a taser; he does not try to make you forget a migraine by hurting even more. Instead, it does something much more interesting: it trick our nervous system into dealing with the pain itself.
Take pain at its own game
To do this, the cuff sends targeted electrical signals, of an intensity far too weak to be felt. They stimulate a very specific part of the nervous system; the latter, convinced that this signal corresponds to excruciating pain, will immediately sound the alarm. It therefore greatly alleviates the pain associated with migraine, to allow the body to focus on this perfectly painless phantom menace.
And based on the results of a first study of 91 patients with chronic migraines, there is cause for optimism. After two hours of use, 59.3% of them would have felt significant relief. After this period, the pain would even have completely disappeared in 21% of patients.
And this cuff would even alleviate the most common side effects. Normally, a migraine causes nausea and a strong sensitivity to sound and light; this treatment significantly alleviated all of these symptoms in all participants. Only a quack was recorded, with a patient complaining of a small pain in the arm. She apparently passed in a few hours, without taking any medication.
On the basis of these results, the American agency which regulates the food and medical products market (FDA) issued an authorization to operate across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, there is no clue that points to a release in Europe today. But all is not lost for French migraine sufferers. If its product performs as well as the study suggests, Theranica could one day choose to export it… unless a cunning competitor takes a bit of polite down on it with a comparable device.
The text of the study is available here.