Thousands of people suffering from debilitating “cluster” headaches are expected to benefit from the introduction of a wearable device that has been proven to help relieve pain.
The gammaCore, a device that delivers a small electrical current to the neck area to block pain signals, is now available in the NHS.
Cluster headaches are a relatively rare condition that is more common in men. They tend to start when the patient reaches their 30s or 40s.
They are often described as a sharp burning or stinging sensation on one side of the head, with seizures lasting between 15 minutes and three hours.
Some people can have up to eight cluster headaches in a day.
The gammaCore can be used both to treat cluster headaches and to prevent when a patient feels like it is occurring.
The condition affects between one and two in 1,000 people, according to the NHS England, and about one in twenty does not respond to traditional treatments such as pain relievers or oxygen.
It is estimated that 11,000 people will benefit from the device after two years of clinical studies.
The technology will be financed from the Medtech Funding Mandate guideline introduced in January this year for the financing of medical devices for NHS patients.
Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “These devices are small but make a big difference to people suffering from these debilitating headaches. They alleviate painful symptoms and enable people to organize their everyday lives as usual. “
He added, “This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest technology and quickly rolling it out to patients across the country.”
Matthew Whitty, Director of Innovation and Life Sciences at NHS England, said, “The Gammacore device offers life-changing benefits to thousands of people and is just one of several technologies commissioned by the NHS.
The gammaCore is one of several technologies being introduced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out health care priorities and strategies for the next 10 years.
Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see how innovative technology is changing the way we treat disease in the NHS.
“This new gammaCore device will bring relief to those suffering from cluster headaches and is one of several innovative treatments available to patients with NHS.”