New device to zap away ‘cluster headaches’ now available on the NHS

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Thousands of people who suffer from debilitating “cluster” headaches are set to benefit from the rollout of a portable gadget proven to help zap away pain.

The gammaCore, a device delivering a low-level electric current to the neck area to block pain signals, is now available on the NHS.

Cluster headaches are a relatively rare condition more commonly found in men – tending to start when the patient reaches their 30s or 40s.

They are often described as a sharp burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head, with attacks lasting between 15 minutes and three hours.

The gammaCore can be used both to treat cluster headaches and prevent them when a patient feels one coming on.

Between one and two people in every 1,000 are affected by the condition, and around one in 20 do not respond to traditional treatments such as painkillers or oxygen, NHS England said.

It estimates 11,000 people will benefit from the device following two years of clinical trials.

The gammaCore device could help thousands of people (NHS England/PA)

NHS medical director Stephen Powis said: “While they may be small, these devices will make a huge difference to people who suffer from these debilitating headaches – relieving painful symptoms and allowing people to go about their daily lives as normal.”

He added: “This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest tech and rolling it out at speed for patients across the country.”

Matthew Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “The Gammacore device will provide life-changing benefits for thousands of people and it is just one of a number of technologies that are being mandated by the NHS.

The gammaCore is one of a number of technologies being rolled out under the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out the priorities and strategies for the health service over the next 10 years.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, said: “It’s hugely encouraging to see innovative technology transform the way we treat illness on the NHS.

“This new gammaCore device will bring relief to many who suffer from cluster headaches and is one of several innovative treatments available to patients on the NHS.”

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