Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation may be effective for chronic migraine prophylaxis, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

In this open-label study, noninvasive transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation was administered for 20 minutes daily to patients with chronic migraine. Clinical evaluations, and migraine disability, medication use, and symptoms of depression and anxiety data were collected at baseline and at 1, 2, and 3 months. Study participants were asked to record the occurrence, intensity, and duration of headaches as well as medication intake in a diary. The study was divided into an intention-to-treat arm and a per-protocol analysis arm.

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The intention-to-treat arm included 24 patients (mean age, 41.63; 91.67% women) who reported experiencing fewer monthly days with moderate or severe headaches (reduction, 3.37 days; not significant) and a significant reduction in the mean monthly days with any headache (reduction, 2.75 days; P =.016).

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The per-protocol arm included 21 women (mean age, 41.9) who reported experiencing a significant reduction in mean monthly days with moderate or severe headaches (reduction, 4 days; P =.0163). In addition, a correlation was established between the reduction in medication use to control symptoms and mean monthly days with moderate or severe headache (P <.001).

Study limitations include a small sample size. Additional double-blind sham-controlled studies are needed to further examine the efficacy of transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation in chronic migraine.

“This study adds a piece of evidence that electrical [transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation] could result in a prophylactic clinical effect in [chronic migraines], but the effect may be either mild or controversial, especially in refractory [chronic migraines] cases,” concluded the study authors.


Ordás CM, Cuadrado ML, Pareja JA, et al. Transcutaneous supraorbital stimulation as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine: a prospective, open-label study [published online May 27, 2019]. Pain Med. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnz119

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor