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Ask Paul Culwick to describe the pain he suffers from his frequent cluster headaches and he gives a shocking answer.
Today, though, his problem is under control thanks to a hand-held ‘nerve-zapper’ that he holds to his neck twice a day.
Device - GammaCore - Works - Nerve - Headache
The device, called gammaCore, which he has been using since 2013, works by stimulating a vital nerve thought to be involved in the headache condition.
This, it is claimed, could help prevent cluster headaches happening in the first place, and ease pain when they do.
Nothing - Headaches - Form - Condition - People
Not for nothing are cluster headaches – a particularly excruciating form of the condition affecting more than 60,000 people in the UK – known as ‘suicide headaches’.
Attacks happen in bursts, with a single attack lasting between 15 minutes and three hours, up to eight times a day. Some patients say it feels as if they are being stabbed through the eye.
Study - Two-thirds - Sufferers - Suicide - Attack
One recent South Korean study found that almost two-thirds of sufferers contemplated suicide during an attack because the pain was so unbearable. Four of the 170 patients researchers interviewed had actually tried to kill themselves.
The gammaCore device has been available privately in the UK for the six years. The battery-powered gadget resembles an electric shaver and works by firing mild electric pulses through the skin to stimulate the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to major organs like the heart, lungs and abdomen.
Research - Vagus - Nerve - Electricity - Pain
Research suggests activating the vagus nerve with electricity appears to stop the pain signals that trigger the sudden onset of crippling pain reaching the brain.
Patients get a microchip that powers the device to deliver a pre-set number of electric shock treatments. Each chip, which slots into the handset, lasts about three months, after which another must be purchased. But it is incredibly expensive, with a year’s use costing up to £3,000. A small number of...
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