The gammaCore device, which uses a low-level electrical current delivered to the back of the neck to combat cluster headaches, will now be available on the NHS. The portable device can be used to tackle cluster headaches in advance if a person feels one developing or to stop headaches that are already underway.
Cluster headaches, which are known to be excruciatingly painful, affect between one and two people in every thousand. Headaches can last from 15 minutes to around three hours and some who suffer from the condition experience up to eight headaches per day.
According to a study published in 2019, 64 per cent of sufferers reported having suicidal thoughts as a result of the condition. Cluster headaches more common among men and usually begin when people are in their 30s or 40s.
NHS England says that approximately one in 20 of those who suffer from the condition do not respond to treatments such as painkillers and oxygen and that the gammaCore device could potentially benefit 11,000 patients.
The device stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck. This nerve goes between the brain and abdomen, relaying signals between the heart, lungs and digestive tract and the brain. According to a study, 48 per cent of patients reported being free of pain within 15 minutes of using the gammaCore.
NHS England National Medical Director Stephen Powis said: “While they may be small, these devices will make a huge difference to people who suffer from these debilitating headaches, relieving painful symptoms and allowing people to go about their daily lives as normal. This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest tech and rolling it out at speed for patients across the country.”