The CEFALY is an external stimulation device used to treat migraine disease. It is FDA cleared (prescription required in the U.S.) for the acute treatment of migraine with or without aura in patients above 18 years of age and the preventative treatment of episodic migraine in patients above 18 years of age.
I have used and do use external treatment devices for chronic pain due to the fact there is no conflict with my medications and they work great with other strategies I use, like ice or meditation. I like to have more than a few things in my pain management bag of tricks, as it were. Although it is not indicated for treatment of chronic migraine, soon I will be trying this one out for migraine treatment and I am quite excited about it really (I will of course write a review with my experience).
Specifically, the CEFALY is an external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation device (e-TNS) device. It is placed on the forehead to stimulate the trigeminal nerve. And the Trigeminal Nerve is quite involved in the migraine process. (Read more about that here).
If you’re like me and ready to try CEFALY, now is definitely the time. CEFALY comes with a 60-day money back guarantee and they have a global COVID Instant Relief Rebate (for a limited time). In the U.S., the instant rebate is $100 off the price of the CEFALY DUAL device. Visit cefaly.com to learn more.
Contraindications & Warnings
Do not use CEFALY if you:
- Have implanted metallic or electronic devices in the head.
- Are suffering from pain of unknown origin.
- Have a cardiac pacemaker or implanted or wearable defibrillator.
Consult a doctor before use if:
- You are under 18 years of age.
- You are over 65 years of age.
- You are pregnant or may become pregnant.
- You suspect or know that you have heart problems.
- You had a recent head injury.
- You have ever suffered a seizure.
- External device so no surgery or injections needed
- Non-drug so it does not conflict with any other medication treatment and also can reduce medication use
- It is well tolerated
- And easy to use
Details for purchase of the CEFALY
- Purchase online at cefaly.com
- If you are located in the U.S. and need a prescription, CEFALY offers easy access to convenient telemedicine appointments through a partnership with AZOVA telemedicine.
- Opportunity for financing as low as 0% APR through Affirm or PayPal Credit
- For a limited time, there is a COVID Instant Rebate running. In the U.S., the savings is as high as $100 on the CEFALY DUAL device through Aug.
- They do offer a money-back guarantee and a warranty (look for details on site upon purchase)
Migraine prevention research
Published in Neurology 2013 Migraine prevention with supraorbital transcutaneous stimulator study1 was a double-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled trial where the subjects applied the stimulator daily for 20 minutes during 3 months.
Results: Sixty-seven patients were randomized and included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Between run-in and third month of treatment, the mean number of migraine days decreased significantly in the verum (6.94 vs 4.88; p = 0.023), but not in the sham group (6.54 vs 6.22; p = 0.608). The 50% responder rate was significantly greater (p = 0.023) in the verum (38.1%) than in the sham group (12.1%). Monthly migraine attacks (p = 0.044), monthly headache days (p = 0.041), and monthly acute antimigraine drug intake (p = 0.007) were also significantly reduced in the verum but not in the sham group. There were no adverse events in either group.Neurology
Conclusions: Supraorbital transcutaneous stimulation with the device used in this trial is effective and safe as a preventive therapy for migraine. The therapeutic gain (26%) is within the range of those reported for other preventive drug and nondrug antimigraine treatments.
In my opinion, results are similar to the results I have seen for many preventative treatments. And I rather think this would make it ideal to work along with another migraine preventative treatment as a result. Or by itself, if you are a medication non-responder such as myself.
Acute treatment research
The Acute migraine therapy with external trigeminal neurostimulation (ACME) study2 study in 2018 looked at Acute treatment of migraine with eTNS. Their objective was to ‘To assess the safety and efficacy of external trigeminal nerve stimulation for acute pain relief during migraine attacks with or without aura via a sham-controlled trial.’ It was a double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled study. Treatment was for 1 hour.
The primary outcome measure was significantly more reduced in the verum group than in the sham group: −3.46 ± 2.32 versus −1.78 ± 1.89 (p < 0.0001), or −59% versus −30% (p < 0.0001). With regards to migraine subgroups, there was a significant difference in pain reduction between verum and sham for ‘migraine without aura’ attacks: mean visual analogue scale reduction at 1 hour was −3.3 ± 2.4 for the verum group versus −1.7 ± 1.9 for the sham group (p = 0.0006). For ‘migraine with aura’ attacks, pain reduction was numerically greater for verum versus sham, but did not reach significance: mean visual analogue scale reduction at 1 hour was −4.3 ± 1.8 for the verum group versus −2.6 ± 1.9 for the sham group (p = 0.060). No serious adverse events were reported and five minor adverse events occurred in the verum group.Sage Journals
Conclusion: One-hour treatment with external trigeminal nerve stimulation resulted in significant headache pain relief compared to sham stimulation and was well tolerated, suggesting it may be a safe and effective acute treatment for migraine attacks.
Personally, I rather like this study, as triptan treatment due to rebound headaches, are limited to 2 times a week (and I am daily at the moment). This gives an alternative acute migraine treatment that does not cause a rebound effect like medications do. And this is a significant result. I certainly look forward to exploring the acute treatment option.
An important final note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are solely my own and not those of CEFALY Technology.
1. Schoenen J, Vandersmissen B, Jeangette S, et al. Migraine prevention with a supraorbital transcutaneous stimulator: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology. Feb 19 2013;80(8):697-704. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182825055
2. Chou DE, Shnayderman Yugrakh M, Winegarner D, Rowe V, Kuruvilla D, Schoenen J. Acute migraine therapy with external trigeminal neurostimulation (ACME): A randomized controlled trial. Cephalalgia. Jan 2019;39(1):3-14. doi:10.1177/0333102418811573
Here is the thing:
- If you do respond to a preventative but it isn’t sufficient to adequately give you back a good quality of life you desire the CEFALY can be added to that to additionally reduce frequency and intensity without adding more medications.
- Or, like me, you do not respond to preventatives at all, ever, and the CEFALY and your other pain management strategies like ice therapy and meditation… are what you Have to manage your migraines and therefore are an excellent option to reduce your intensity and/or frequency. Trust me when I say, using devices and methods to reduce Intensity, very welcome. And Frequency, EVEN BETTER. For prevention, it is about 20 minutes of use a day.
- I get a migraine every single day. 2 of those days of the week I get the privilege of using a triptan. And that leaves a Whole lot of migraine attacks unaccounted for with any options. And the CEFALY can be used as an acute treatment for an attack. So two for one there. Acute and prevention. This option is extremely appealing to me. Managing daily migraine attacks is extremely hard with the limitations of medications and rebound headaches. Having non-drug options is quite beneficial. For an acute attack, it is worn for 60 minutes for treatment.
That is why the CEFALY interests me, in particular. And why I have used other devices for other chronic pain conditions. They work well with my medication. They have little to no side effects. Some, like, this one, are portable. And specifically with migraine disease, I am ‘non-responsive’ to medication which leaves me very little treatment options to manage my pain. For acute treatment, we tend to be limited to triptans which we cannot take more than twice a week which for me leaves five days of managing the pain other ways and this makes for one great option.
So I am excited to try it out as a pain management treatment for my migraine disease. I firmly believe these are important options to consider in pain management in addition to medication. Only because medication has limitations even when effective. And side effects. And other issues. So adding in non-drug treatment devices can greatly improve our pain management strategies. The CEFALY is specifically designed to target the nerve associated with migraine attacks, it has a lot of research to back it which I like, and therefore is a device I will explore for my migraine management.
*Post in collaboration with CEFALY