Does migraine leave your head spinning? Here is a treatment

There may be some good news for people with vestibular migraine, a type of migraine that causes vertigo and dizziness with or without headache pain.

A new study suggests that non-invasive nerve stimulation may be a treatment for vestibular migraine attacks, a condition for which there are currently no approved treatments.

The research was done by a team from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Vestibular migraine is the most common neurologic cause of vertigo, and can greatly interfere with a person’s daily life.

People with vestibular migraine do not always have headaches and when they do, they are often less severe than in typical migraine, so the pain-relieving drugs used for typical migraine often are not effective.

People can take drugs that suppress vertigo or nausea, but those drugs cause drowsiness and make it hard for people to go about their usual activities.

In the study, the team tested 18 people diagnosed with vestibular migraine. None of the participants had a history of other conditions that can cause vertigo.

The participants received electrical stimulation via a handheld device placed against the neck during a vestibular migraine attack.

The non-invasive stimulation delivers electrical impulses through the skin to the vagus nerve in the neck.

The stimulation lasted for two minutes on each side of the neck. This treatment is currently used for typical migraine headaches.

Among the participants, 14 were treated during a vestibular migraine attack and four were treated for dizziness that persisted between attacks.

After the stimulation, vertigo improved in 13 of the 14 people who were having an attack.

Two people had no more vertigo; five people had at least 50 percent improvement in their vertigo symptoms.

Those participants rated how severe their vertigo was before receiving the stimulation and 15 minutes after the stimulation ended, on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the worst-ever symptoms.

Participants’ vertigo was rated at an average of 5.2 before stimulation and 3.1 after stimulation.

Of the five people who had a headache with the attack, all had an improvement in the pain. Headache severity was also rated from zero to 10; it went from an average of 6 to 2.4.

None of the four people who had the treatment for dizziness between attacks had any improvement.

In addition, the participants reported a mild pulling sensation of the neck muscles during the stimulation but did not report any pain or other side effects.

The team says if these results can be confirmed with larger studies, not only could there finally be a treatment for vestibular migraine, such a treatment would also be easy to use.

One author of the study is Shin C. Beh, MD. from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The study is published in Neurology.

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