Patients who suffer from migraines have a throbbing pain in their head that gets worse and can last six to 48 hours. Some patients may experience nausea, chills, fatigue and a sensitivity to light when these headaches begin. MedlinePlus noted that this type of headache is more common among women. Migraine patients who have these headaches 15 or more days a month for at least three months have a type of migraine called chronic migraine, according to the National Headache Foundation. Treatment for chronic migraine involves controlling the triggers of migraines, such as making changes to the patient's diet, and may include medications. For example, a doctor may prescribe a patient with chronic migraines a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for acute treatment, in which she would take the medication two days or less a week. If the patient is put on preventive pharmacotherapy, she may take medications such as anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers or antidepressants, noted the National Headache Foundation.
Chronic migraine sufferers may now have another option: peripheral nerve stimulation. St. Jude Medical reported results at the 15th International Headache Congress in Berlin, Germany of a randomized clinical trial that used peripheral nerve stimulation to manage the pain from chronic migraines. Peripheral nerve stimulation uses electrodes which send electrical current to the peripheral nerves. First, the patient receives a temporary trial electrode for a week or so to see if the treatment is beneficial. With the temporary trial electrode, the patient controls an external power supply for the electrical current. If peripheral nerve stimulation with the temporary trial electrode works for the patient, the patient will have it replaced with a permanent electrode, which is connected to an internal battery pack instead. Columbia University Medical Center explained that “by stimulating the nonpainful sensory pathway, the electrical current tricks the brain into turning off (or significantly attenuating) the painful signals,” which results in pain relief. The press release for the study by St.