NHS rolls out headache-busting gadget

NHS England has announced that a small, portable device that can zap away excruciating headaches is now available to anyone who needs it on the NHS.

NHS England is expanding the use of gammaCore after successful trials held over the last two years. The gadget is held against the neck and delivers a low-level electric current to block pain signals, relieving pain from people suffering from ‘cluster’ headaches.

Approximately 11,000 people are set to benefit from the device when they have the debilitating headaches.

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 cluster headaches or when they feel one starting to come on.

Clinicians now have another treatment option for patients, particularly for those who have not had success with other treatments, including triptan – painkillers used to ease migraines and severe headaches. The new technology is being made available, as part of the new Medtech Funding Mandate policy, which came into effect on 1 April, allowing patients to benefit from fast tracked innovations from the NHS.

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.

“The NHS Long Term Plan committed to making cutting edge treatments and technology available to save and improve lives. This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest tech and rolling it out at speed for patients across the country.”

While rare, the debilitating condition is more common in men and tend to start when they are in their 30s or 40s.

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