The Migraine Girl tries Cefaly

Before 2015 concluded, I bit the bullet: I decided to ask my neurologist if she’d be willing to write me a prescription for the Cefaly headband (also referred to as the “Cefaly device,” “Cefaly machine,” or just “Cefaly”).  My friend Kerrie wrote a review of Cefaly, and after reading that article and the subsequent comments I was sufficiently curious to ask my doctor about it. Kerrie’s article is much more in-depth than what I’ll write here, so if you want to learn more about the background of this device and her perspective, please do check out her thorough review.

What was my inspiration for asking about it before 2015 ended? Well, I naively thought that Humana would cover the device, seeing as it’s something a patient can only get after acquiring a prescription from a doctor.  Because I had surgery in early 2015 and hit my deductible for once, I was stocking up on as many drug refills as possible before 2016 began, as my total charge at the pharmacy was always $0.00 between about October and December. Ah, the glory days. Once I realized that, according to Cefaly, no insurance companies in the U.S. cover it, I started saving up for the purchase.  After I had sufficient funds, I ordered the device from the U.S. Cefaly website. They won’t confirm or ship the order until you send your prescription in, so if you’re thinking about ordering online without a prescription, let me stop you right here. Talk to your doctor first, and start saving your pennies—I spent nearly $400 on this purchase.

Unlike Kerrie’s, my device is set to the U.S. formatting, meaning the program runs for just twenty minutes at a time.  If there’s a way to override that, I don’t know what it is, but I’m not planning on trying to hack it. I started using it the night of March 2nd of this year and have found that keeping a routine is the easiest way for me to stick to the regimen.

Between 9 and 10 at night, I get ready for bed even if I don’t plan on sleeping for a bit. I brush my teeth, put in my NTI device, and wash my face. When I apply lotion at night, I am sure to avoid putting it on my forehead, since that’s where the Cefaly electrode goes and it’s important for your skin to be clean and not at all greasy.

I then climb into bed with a book and put the electrode on my forehead. The only Cefaly rule I’ve broken so far is using the electrode more than 20 days. My original one was still super-sticky and not failing me after about 30 days of proper use and storage, so rather than open a new one (which I paid for), I stretched my dollars!

The first week or so I couldn’t get through the entire program even once.  Luckily the device is set up so you can either stop the sensations from progressing or turn it off completely. I haven’t had to turn mine off completely yet, but there were many nights at the beginning when I pressed the center button to hold the intensity where it was—I didn’t think I could handle letting it progress!

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My first few weeks, in tweets:

Here are my tweets posted during my initial period of using Cefaly. Click on the dates of the tweets and you may be treated to some dorky Cefaly selfies!

Mar. 2, 2016: “Day 1 of @Cefaly. It feels more intense than expected (& I stopped intensity from progressing 4 min in!). #migraine

March 5, 2016: “First time using @Cefaly on same day I had a #migraine. Painful from the first second but it’s getting tolerable.”

March 19, 2016: “Tonight the @Cefaly is right on the verge of terribly distracting pain and a pleasant buzzing. Also: like I have itches I can’t scratch.”

March 24, 2016: “So far tonight is the 1st time I’ve kind of enjoyed @Cefaly. My eyeballs are shaking rather subtly & pleasantly–at least it feels that way!”

March 30, 2016: “Tonight @Cefaly gave me the impression that I had a stray hair on my nose that was tickling me. Then forehead got very itchy. But all ok!”

So, does it work?

For me, it’s too early to say. I have had more migraine-free or “migraine-light” days, but that could be due to so many different factors, so I can’t right off the bat claim that it’s Cefaly.  Many users find that they notice an improvement after several weeks to a few months of use. so I’ll have to check back in with you down the line. Deal?

My compliance rate is really high—I use it more frequently than I remember to take both doses of my vitamins and supplements prescribed by my doctor!—and I actually am loving my evening routine.  The sensation of there being a stray hair tickling my nose has remained since my initial tweet about it on March 30th. Sometimes if I wrinkle my forehead while wearing the headband, the pain becomes super-intense. I noticed the same thing if I try to move around the house a little.  For me, it is easiest to do the program while sitting relatively still (not lying down) and relaxing—not talking or using the computer or doing even routine things around the house.

For those of you who want to see me using the Cefaly device, while describing the sensations I’m feeling, please check out my video here.

So: I’d love to hear from you! Have you tried Cefaly? If so, let us know how it’s going. Haven’t tried it yet? Feel free to comment below or in the forums so you can talk with me and others while you try to decide if it’s something you’ll pursue. 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (15)
  • Bulldog
    2 years ago

    Migraine Girl, How effective was the cefaly for you after your trial? I’m considering trying it.

  • PLR
    3 years ago

    @The Migraine Girl: How about an update, now that it is July?

  • cathousefood
    2 years ago

    I’ve used Cefaly for 18 months now and I couldn’t live without it. It has stopped my daily headaches now completely.

    For the first 3 months I suffered the worst migraine I had ever experienced once a month and now absolutely nothing. It even stops me getting migraines when I drink red wine! I’ve stopped my medication.Therefore my advice is you must stick with it for a couple of months before you get results – like most things in life.

    I use it nightly usually, sometimes twice, when my mind is racing and it definitely makes me go to sleep now.

    I’m totally addicted, couldn’t possibly live without it and as I said above not only has it stopped my daily headaches and monthly migraines it now has stopped my insomnia – win win situation, thank you Cefaly!

  • Perez Joseph
    3 years ago

    P.S. I’ve had these migraines since 2006 when I had a couple of stents put in cardiac arteries. Before that I only had migraines maybe once or twice a month since age 35. I double checked and I got it in mid 2014, but my insurance did not cover it-at the time it was considered experimental. After talking with my wife she updated me, apparently I only used the device for a few weeks because it made my migraines worse (sorry for the misinformation earlier). And as far as returning it, we didn’t pay any attention to the return policy until it was too late. Take care all.

  • Perez Joseph
    3 years ago

    I tried the Cefaly last year for a couple of months. I was able to tolerate the pain from the electrode point. I used it religiously. However, I have been diagnosed with Intractable Chronic Migraines 24/7. The pain level is pretty constant at 9 (out of 10). It wakes me every night between 1 and 3 am (it is usually a 10 at this point). I never have a break in the pain and the Cefaly unfortunately didn’t work. However, by the time I gave up the return period had expired. I had purchased it with my own funds (because at this point I have tried most everything I read about or heard about (botox, epidural, accupunture, massage, facet injections, food trigger diets, Cefaly, off pain meds for a year, etc.)-and I’ve been to many migraine specialists). I glad to hear it has worked for some people. That seems to be the most common element of migraines-nothing works for everyone, but some people benefit from almost anything and you can’t predict what will help. Good luck all.

  • JS
    3 years ago

    I have been using a Cefaly for about 8 months now. I believe it helped me sleep better after a couple of weeks of using it. It has not cured my migraines, but it may decrease their intensity sometimes. My neurologist has another patient who has reduced her migraines significantly since starting Cefaly. My insurance company did cover it when I wrote to them and submitted copies of my prescription and receipt. They also covered the electrodes on the first purchase, I plan to submit my additional purchases soon. Hopefully you find relief. It is so challenging having chronic migraines.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Dear JS,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I am happily surprised to read that you advocated for yourself and that your insurance company covered it. I may have to try that after all (though it may be too late since I already made the purchase myself). I, too, have noticed that Cefaly has helped me fall asleep, and my sleep quality seems to be better. As far as the migraine frequency and intensity go, I’m not quite sure yet–but things *seem* to be going well.

    Take care; hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Timothy Bauer
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the article. I also got a neurologist prescription and
    tried the Cefaly device. Now it didn’t work for me-but have a
    money back guarantee-which they immediately credited my
    account once returned. Not much to lose by trying fellow migraineurs.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Timothy,

    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you, but how wonderful to hear firsthand that Cefaly stands by their money-back guarantee. That’ll definitely help some of our readers decide to at least try it out.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Jeanne
    3 years ago

    Having had a terrible reaction to TENS therapy when my physical therapist tried it for an unrelated condition, I know there’s no way I could use the Cefaly. When I tried TENS, it made me so incredibly uncomfortable both physically and emotionally that I almost had a full-blown panic attack.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh, goodness, Jeanne, that sounds rough! I don’t think I’d want to try it, either, were I in your position with that TENS experience in my past. I hope you find some remedies that do work for you and don’t cause too much pain or anxiety.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Eleanor R.
    3 years ago

    I got the Cefaly quite a while ago, so I’ve done over 250 sessions. For a while I did it daily, but did not find it decreased the frequency of my chronic migraines. However, it often can be used to take edge off the pain, so it’s well worth having. I have the US model, and use it while using my desktop computer. No problem, and I don’t consider it at all uncomfortable.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m sorry it didn’t help decrease your migraine frequency, but it sounds like you still get a lot of use out of it. I hope you’re feeling well today!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • sarah
    3 years ago

    I began using Cefaly in mid-March of this year. I also had alot of discomfort (almost pain) during the first week or two, but each day it became less intense to the point where it is very relaxing now. I listened to relaxing music or watched something on tv that would distract me from the discomfort. Now, it is very relaxing. I’ve even done 2-3 20 minute sessions back to back. I’m using the Cefaly as I type this, but that wouldn’t have been possible during the first few weeks. Pro tip: if you have gone through the initial phase where you are getting used to the Cefaly and then it stings at the beginning of the 20 minute session, make sure the Cefaly’s electrodes are both touching the corresponding points on the sticky pad. I discovered that by accident. I have had good results so far, but am curious as to whether the benefits will continue. For me so far, Cefaly has stopped a migraine in its tracks. It also seems to have cut down the the number and intensity of the attacks I do get. I’ll keep you posted..

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Sarah. Sounds like we’ve had our Cefalys around the same amount of time and had similar experiences.

    If you get a chance, can you clarify your comment about the electrodes “both touching the corresponding points on the sticky pad”? I’m not sure what you mean and fear I’m using it incorrectly or inefficiently!

    Thanks,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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