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Migraines could be treated with magnetic pulses

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Migraine sufferers have been offered new hope by a hand-held device that uses magnetic pulses to combat the chronic headaches.

The technique, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS), fires the waves to the back of the head and has proven to be effective in treating those suffering attacks of migraine with aura, research in The Lancet Neurology said.

Characterised by lights, lines, visual “black spots” and numbness, aura-type migraines are said to affect around 20% to 30% of sufferers.

Study leader Dr Richard Lipton, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, randomly assigned 201 patients with either a portable sTMS device, or a “sham” machine that produced no magnetic pulse. Of the 164 patients who treated at least one attack, 39% from the sTMS group were pain free after two hours compared with 22% of the “sham” group.

The research also found that the machine did not aggravate associated symptoms, and no serious side effects were reported.

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