Sufferers from headaches, migraines or other facial or head pain the “take some aspirin and let me know” approach is useless.
According to Global Burden of disease study headache disorders are one of the highest causes of years lost to disability. Headache disorders symptoms such as nausea, throbbing pain, and dizziness have a huge impact on home and work life.
The main nerve bundle that is responsible for facial and headache pain is the sphenopalatine ganglion bundle or SPG. This nerve bundle has connections to the brainstem and meninges. Inflammation around the SPG activates pain receptors and in turn causes the release of pain causing neurotransmitters. There is currently no cure for these disorders and common treatments like local anaesthetics(xylocaine,lidocaine), analgesics(ibrufopen, aspirin), actreotide, dihydroergotamin and sumatriptans will only reduce the severity and frequency of the attack.
A company called Autonomic Technologies (ATI) based in California has develop a possible solution. It can be best described as a electronic aspirin device which is remotely controlled by the patient and delivers a low-level electronic stimulation to the SPG nerve cluster. The electrical stimulation of the SPG will reduce pain like migraines, cluster headaches and tension headaches.
The device requires a very minor surgery to implant the ATI neorostimilator in the upper gum above the second molar. Once implanted the lead tip of the electronic aspirin is connected to the SPG bundle and targets pain at the source. The implant will be placed the side of the patient, which has the most pain.
The patient can regulate the strength of the stimulation according to the pain needs with a remote control.
Typically it takes around 15minutes to a few hours to feel relief, however some patients has claimed immediate relief.
Unlike therapies like oxygen therapy where a large tank and regulator is needed the hand-held device can deliver on-demand therapy in a small format and will make it significant easier for the sufferer.
The electronic aspirin implant has a low-level safety profile compared to other surgery alternatives. It also has no side effects and will be safe for people that suffer from allergies, hear disease and high blood pressure where medications such as sumatriptans and analgesics are a problem. In rare cases the implant has caused nasal infection and nasal bleeding.
Clinical studies done by Autonomic Technologies claims 68% of patients who has had the implant experienced significant improvement. Of these patients 65% has had their head ache disorder cured within three months after the implant.
Electronic Aspirin is still under approval by the FDA, but this exciting new technology can be a permanent solution for patients suffering from head ache disorders and can dramatically improve their quality of life.