What Is Cefaly?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 May 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cefaly is a device marketed for the treatment of migraine and other headache conditions. It is worn over the forehead and provides external electrical stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, which is believed to be related to the development of severe headaches. The technology is based on Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), used to treat some forms of pain. Definitive research on Cefaly was not available as of 2011, making it difficult to determine the efficacy of the device.

The manufacturer recommends periodic sessions to prevent headaches. It can also be worn at the start of a migraine episode in an attempt to reduce the intensity and longevity of the headache. Patients can consult with a doctor to determine if a Cefaly would be appropriate for them. Medical professionals may recommend using it as complementary therapy alongside other treatments. It does not appear to be dangerous, although it could conflict with implanted electrical devices; patients who use these devices may want to check before trying external stimulation with a Cefaly headband.


Research with implanted electrical stimulation devices does show promise in the treatment of headaches as well as other conditions like epilepsy. The efficacy of external electrical stimulation has not been as widely studied and is more in doubt. Cefaly doesn’t offer the deep and direct stimulation provided by internal devices and thus cannot be compared to such equipment. More study is necessary to determine if external stimulation provides benefits, and where the current needs to be targeted in order to deliver the most effective therapy.

TENS therapy is more widely accepted, as it has been proved useful in some studies for specific medical conditions. The efficacy of TENS depends on where it is utilized and whether the unit is applied correctly. Internal stimulation can provide more benefits for some chronic pain conditions, but patients may want to try external units for temporary relief in the short term. There may also be contraindications that make an implant dangerous for the patient, requiring external stimulation for pain therapy.

Availability of Cefaly depends on a patient’s location. It may require a consultation with a doctor in some regions, while in other cases it can be bought directly. Patients should follow safety directions issued with the device to protect themselves from the risk of electrical shock and other potential complications. If they notice problems like dizziness, confusion, or disorientation, they may want to discontinue use and discuss the situation with a neurologist.



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