Sham device users experienced no such drop-off.
In addition, 38 percent of the working device users saw their attacks drop off by half or more, compared with 12 percent for those using fake stimulators.
Monthly use of anti-migraine drugs to cope with migraine attacks when they occurred dropped by nearly 37 percent among supraorbital transcutaneous stimulator users, with no drop among the sham group.
Schoenen and her associates said that the exact mechanism by which electrical stimulation seems to help migraine sufferers remains unclear, though they suggested it might have something to do with the neurological prompting of a "sedative effect."
Perhaps most important was the finding that none of the stimulator users experienced any side effects.
The researchers point to a previously conducted analysis of studies focusing on the impact of taking a 100-milligram dosage of topiramate -- a standard migraine drug. That analysis showed that the drug was considerably more effective than the nerve stimulator devices in its ability to reduce the frequency of monthly attacks.
At the same time, however, the analysis revealed that half of all topiramate patients had experienced drug-related side effects, compared with none among the stimulation device users. A quarter of all topiramate patients had ended up dropping the drug altogether due to the harshness of the side effects.
Commenting on the new study findings, Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, chair of neurology at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio, and director of the center's headache treatment and research program, said: "It's certainly true that for some people side effects are really problematic. Depending on the class of medication, there can be problems with weight gain, hair loss, thinking, sedation, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness and, for men, particular sexu
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