1.What is it?
gammaCore and the updated gammaCore Sapphire are hand-held devices designed to use non-invasive electrical stimulation to assist in the relief of acute pain associated with episodic cluster headaches and migraines. ¹
Both versions of the device – FDA approved
2.Why is it important?
- Migraines affect approximately 3,000 people in every 1,000,000 of the general UK population³
- Migraines cost the NHS £150 million per year, mostly due to prescription drugs and GP appointments³
- Traditional vagus nerve stimulation methods are usually surgical
- gammaCore provides a non-invasive approach allowing for portable and convenient treatment for cluster attack sufferers, allowing greater freedom in daily life
- Avoids potential side effects seen in pharmacological treatments associated with injectable, inhaled or oral medicines
3.How does it work?
gammaCore works by gently stimulating vagus nerve fibres through skin, here’s how to use the device:
- Locate carotid pulse (just under jawline), where the vagus nerve runs through the neck
- Apply conductive gel provided to electrodes on the device
- Turn on the device and wait for it to beep
- Position the device vertically on the neck where the pulse was located, ensuring complete contact of stimulation surfaces with the skin
- Increase the intensity on the side of the device till a muscular lip pull is seen, but reduce if any pain is experienced, and an adequate intensity is found
- Two-minute stimulations of a mild electrical pulse will proceed which will stimulate the vagus nerve
As the vagus nerve plays an important role in the regulation of pain, thus, stimulation of these nerve fibres may inhibit the pain signals transmitted in migraines and cluster attacks, hence a reduction in pain, with fewer associated side effects of common pharmacological treatment.
All images from this article belong to Electrocore
Author – Shahmeer Noori, Medical Student