Cefaly® – the New Wearable Electrical Stimulator to Prevent Migraines

Apparently an announcement was made recently that Ceflay®, a device that stimulates the nerves around the head using electricity, has been approved in the US for the prevention of migraine.

This device has been around for a couple of years in other countries and has been approved as a medical device in those countries. I saw one demonstrated at the International Headache Congress last summer and tired it as have some of my patients.

Pros:

Unlike many sham devices that are promoted to “cure” or treat headaches, this one has some science to stand on.  I suggest you go to their web page and read more about it including the related studies.  It appears safe, not involving medications, which can cause side effects.  We always welcome any new treatment that can lower the suffering of our patients.

Cons:

It is not cheap, pricing around $250-$350 according to my brief research.  Sometimes there is a lag time between FDA approval and actually appearing on the market.  For example a magnetic migraine gun was approved in early December to stop the developing of a migraine after an aura is still not available. So, I’m not sure when the Ceflay® will really be available to the public. You can buy it at Costco in Canada and at the Canadian Amazon.  I doubt that a prescription will be needed to buy it.  However, to have it covered by insurance a prescription will be required.  Not all insurances will pay for it.

I do throw out a word of caution. This will not be a game changer for headache treatment but possibly, one of many modalities that might be helpful.  These things are often over-promoted in the beginning, especially when they get a lot of air time on TV news programs involving patient testimonials.

While there is good science to support the use of electrical stimulation of the trigeminal and occipital nerves to prevent headaches, this device has not had large placebo-controlled studies confirming that it prevents migraines.  In Belgium, a survey showed that 53% of users were satisfied with it. To prove that something really works and not just a psychological deception, you must compare it to fake treatment where the patients don’t even know who is getting the treatment who is not. I have had patients use the Cefaly® over the past couple of years with mixed results.

In summary, there is no reason not to try it, except for the cost. If it helps to reduce your suffering then it may be well-worth the money spent.

J. Michael Jones, MPAS-C