A paper in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that electroCore’s non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation treatment (nVNS), gammaCore, reduced menstrual and menstrual-related migraine attacks by more than a third, with 40% of the patients experiencing a reduction in migraine frequency of 50% or more.
Menstrual migraine/menstrual-related migraine is one the most common categories of migraine in women, and the most resistant to existing treatments. These migraines are also generally longer lasting, more debilitating and more prone to reoccurrence.
The open label study of 56 patients found that gammaCore therapy reduced the average number of migraine days by 35%, reduced the pain intensity of the migraines that did occur, and reduced the use of analgesics to acutely treat the migraine attacks by 37%.
“This is a significant result for the many millions of women who suffer from this particularly challenging form of migraine every month. The treatment, which the patient administers with gammaCore, is easy to use and has none of the usual side effects that many existing treatments cause,” said Professor Grazzi from the headache center at the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute in Milan Italy, who led the study.
A unique feature of gammaCore for women with menstrual-related migraine is the ability to use gammaCore for the week or two when the migraines most affect them without having to take a medication every day of the month.
“This is particularly important work in the field of headache. Most female migraineurs get menstrual-related migraine, and it’s usually their worst attack of the month. To complicate matters, many neurologists are uncomfortable addressing the hormonal triggers that underlie these attacks. This device offers a non-pharmacologic way to address women’s worst headaches,” said Dr. Anne Calhoun, Director of the Carolina Headache Center, and a co-author of the paper.
The study also found that there was a meaningful improvement in the quality of life for patients who responded. The authors postulate that the efficacy of the gammaCore treatment may be related to the suppression of excessive extracellular levels of glutamate through the trigeminal sensory pathways of women who are susceptible to estrogen-withdrawal attacks.