Electric currents 'lead to migraine relief'

4 January 2013

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Harvard University and the City College of the University of New York have found an innovative way of relieving pain in patients that suffer from migraines.

The multi-university project saw experts work together on developing a new approach that effectively sends electric currents into the brain, which helps to reduce the severity of headaches by as much as 37 per cent after four weeks' worth of treatment.

This non-evasive method is known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). What it effectively does is help the brain release natural painkillers known as endogenous opioids, which are considered to have the same effect, to a degree, as opiates and morphine. The effects are cumulative though.

"This suggests that repetitive sessions are necessary to revert ingrained changes in the brain related to chronic migraine suffering," explained Alexandre DaSilva, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and lead author of the study.

"Previously, it was thought that the electric current would only go into the most superficial areas of the cortex. We found that pain-related areas very deep in the brain could be targeted."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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