The two most common migraine classifications are migraine with aura and migraine without aura. Auras are sensory warning signs that usually precede migraines, but can also occur during the attack. Auras can include flashes of light, blind spots or a tingling sensation in the arms or legs. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20 percent of individuals with migraines experience an aura. Most commonly, auras are visual. An electrical or chemical wave moves across the visual cortex of the brain to produce visual hallucinations that typically last 10 to 30 minutes.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: While there's still no cure for migraines, treatment has improved dramatically in the past decade. One of the newest treatments is being studied by Dr. Mohammad and his colleagues. They are using a novel electronic device to "zap" away migraine pain before it starts. The noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulator (TMS) device works by interrupting the aura phase of the migraine before it leads to a migraine. It is based on the late 1990s hypothesis that migraines were a result of the neuronal hyperexcitablility in the brain. The device sends a strong electric current through a metal coil, producing a powerful magnetic field for roughly one millisecond. The device is held against a patient's head so the magnetic pulse can create an electric current in the brain's neurons and interrupt the aura. A multi-center randomized clinical trial tested the device on 164 patients. Two hours after being treated, 39 percent were pain free, compared to 22 percent of the patients receiving placebo pulses. Early studies involved a bulky TMS device, but the team created a portable, hand-held tool for at-home use.
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Ohio State University Medical Center
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