A cheek implant could be the answer to curing “excruciating” headaches for thousands of people in the UK.
Cluster headaches are described by the NHS as “excruciating attacks of pain” felt in one side of the head and often around the eye area.
Common side effects of these headaches include intense burning and stabbing sensations, tears, red eyes and nasal congestion. The pain can last up to several hours without relief.
Treatments currently available on the NHS include sumatriptan injections, which can be self medicated up to twice a day, nasal spray or oxygen therapy, but these have limited effectiveness.
The new Pulsante device is different to all alternative treatments as it works by acting as a nerve simulator, inserted into the patient’s cheek with a small incision in the upper gum.
The implant sits deep in the patient’s cheek, below the eye socket, to be activated when required. When it is in place, the patient controls the simulation by placing the remote controller on to their cheek.
Cluster headaches, which are named because of the frequency with which they occur, are estimated to affect as many as 1 in every 500 to 1000 people in the United Kingdom.
Although the causes of cluster headaches are not known, research shows they are more common in males, specifically those over the age of 20 who smoke.