Treatment option: Cefaly for migraine prevention and pain reduction

An effective tool for reducing migraine frequency and pain

Headache is one of the most common symptoms after a concussion or mTBI (if your injury involved whiplash or other damage to the neck, these headaches may be cervicogenic). Migraine headaches are also common.

Since she was a small child, my wife has dealt with migraines, and I first learned about the Cefaly device from her—after it arrived in the mail a few years ago.

The device is fairly ingenious in its simplicity. You place a kind of metallic bandaid on your forehead, which magnetically attaches to the small lightweight device.

The device has two modes. One is a daily “maintenance” mode to reduce migraine frequency (you can do this while watching an episode of television). The other is a pain reduction mode you can use during an active migraine.

When you press the button on the device, it very slowly and steadily increases the amount of neural stimulation. If it becomes too much, you can press a button to hold things steady at that level for the remainder of the treatment.

The first few times I tried it, the stimulation felt pretty intense. This is expected. As you get used to the effect, you’re able to tolerate higher and higher levels of stimulation.

What is it doing? Stimulating the trigeminal nerve, which is implicated in migraine headaches. Will it be as helpful with cervicogenic headaches? I don’t know for sure, but it’s reasonable to think it might prevent one of those headaches from becoming a migraine.

You once needed a prescription to get your hands on a Cefaly. Not anymore. The FDA has cleared the device as “an over-the-counter product for the acute and preventative treatment of migraine headaches in adults (18 years and older).”

Oh, and it’s free for veterans through the VA.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the Cefaly, check out their website.


Brainwave is an informational resource for people whose symptoms haven’t resolved after a concussion or mTBI. I endeavor to present this information in a clear and concise way, spelling out what’s backed by science and what remains unknown. Nothing here is meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I am not a physician or a healthcare practitioner of any kind; I’ve simply had a lot of sports-related concussions and had to learn this stuff the hard way. If you found this information helpful or know someone who might benefit from it, please share and subscribe to Brainwave.