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Neurostimulation Therapy to ease cluster headaches

Scientists believe they may be on the right track in the treatment of cluster// headaches.

The key they say is stimulation of the occipital nerve.

This is done by implanting electrodes near the head and neck of the sufferers and giving them remotes to control the pulses.

The conclusions were reached separate research groups That included neurologists from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, in London, with University of California colleagues, as well as researchers from the Headache Research Unit of Belgium's Liege University.

During the research of the former, in one study, six out of eight patients studied said they got relief from cluster headaches while using the implanted electrodes.

Two out of eight patients in a second study said they were headache-free for more than a year using the device, and three more reported a 90-percent drop in the frequency of attacks.

Cluster headaches which are marked by periods with many attacks of extremely severe headaches are usually tackled by preventive medication every day for years. But in some cases, drugs do no good.

The use of brain stimulation in targeting a region called the posterior hypothalamus has been found quite effective yet it runs the dangerous risk of patients developing a fatal hemorrhage.

In the second body of work, Jean Schoenen and colleagues from the Headache Research Unit of Belgium's Liege University tested eight patients separately.

Two patients had no pain after 16 months and 22 months, respectively, and three more said they had 90 percent fewer headaches.

Says Peter Goadsby of University College London in Britain and the University of California, 'Occipital nerve stimulation in cluster headache seems to offer a safe, effective treatment option that could begin a new era of neurostimulation therapy for primary headache symptoms.'

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