New Hope for Cluster Headache Sufferers?

July 8, 2013

The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) has recently been the target of a novel treatment for patients with cluster headaches. A sham-controlled randomized study of an implantable stimulator of the SPG offers encouraging preliminary results.

Cluster headache is an intensely painful primary headache disorder that is believed to affect  as many people as multiple sclerosis. Intractable chronic cluster headache is, according to headache specialist Peter Goadsby-one of the most challenging of all headache disorders.

Although brain imaging and clinical trials have shed new light on the pathogenesis of cluster headaches, treatment is inadequate and research, according to Goadsby is “at best pathetically funded.”

The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) has recently been the target of a novel treatment for patients with cluster headaches. The details of a sham-controlled randomized study of an implantable SPG stimulator can be read here. Of the 28 patients who participated in the study, 67% experienced pain relief at 15 minutes, and 10 had fewer headaches during the treatment period.

The SPG stimulator is not available in this country. However, Goadsby writes: “With every new development in cluster headache my practice day brightens, even if it is not usable immediately, since it offers hope for tomorrow.”

Details about this neurostimulator can befound in this slide show.