NHS to offer device to zap cluster headaches

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NHS to offer device to zap cluster headaches

A small, portable device that can zap away painful cluster headaches is now available on the NHS.

The gammaCore device is held against the neck and delivers a low-level electric current to block pain signals, relieving pain from people suffering from cluster headaches.

NHS England is expanding the use of gammaCore after successful trials held over the past two years, and around 11,000 people who suffer from cluster headaches are set to benefit.

NHS 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 allow people to go about their daily lives as normal.”

Cluster headaches begin quickly and are often described as a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head with attacks lasting between 15 minutes and three hours and occurring up to eight times a day.

Patients can use the device regularly to prevent headaches or when they feel one starting to come on.

While rare, the condition is more common in men and tends to start when they are in their 30s or 40s. About one to two people in every 1,000 are affected by cluster headaches, and around one in 20 do not respond to traditional methods, including standard analgesics, triptans used to ease migraines, or oxygen.

The new technology is being made available as part of the Medtech Funding Mandate policy, which came into effect on 1 April, allowing patients to benefit from fast tracked innovations from the NHS.

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