Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Reviewed April 2022 | Last updated: August 2022
The gammaCore Sapphire™ is a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator (nVNS). It is a battery-powered handheld device that can be used for the prevention and treatment of migraine. GammaCore requires a prescription. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for use for:
- Preventive treatment of migraine in adolescents (12 and older) and adults
- Acute treatment of migraine head pain in adolescents (12 and older) and adults
- Add on preventive treatment for cluster headache in adults
- Acute treatment of episodic cluster headache pain in adults
gammaCore is made by electroCore, a bioelectronic medicine company.1 They specialize in making technology that uses electrical impulses to treat various conditions.1 gammaCore uses nVNS to provide both a non-invasive, drug-free preventive and acute treatment option for people with migraine.1-2
How does gammaCore work?
The gammaCore is handheld. It is applied to the skin on the side of the neck. Someone at your doctor’s office will teach you the correct placement of the device.
A conductive gel is applied to the stimulation surfaces of the device. When placed against the neck and turned on, the device sends mild electrical stimulation to the fibers of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve has been associated with migraine pain. External stimulation may result in a decrease in pain.1-2
gammaCore is wireless, portable, and designed for home use.1-2
gammaCore therapy depends on specific need
gammaCore instructions for use will vary based on preventive or acute treatment needs, as well as for migraine or cluster headache use. Based on your type of pain, a headache specialist will help determine the number of stimulation pulses that is right for you.1,2 The unit can be adjusted manually so the treatment intensity level is comfortable. The device turns off automatically after each treatment.2
What are some of the possible side effects of gammaCore?
Neurostimulation devices are an important option to help people who may be sensitive to the side-effects of migraine drugs, or for those who want a drug-free approach. Most side effects are mild, occur while using the device, and disappear soon after each treatment. Each person may respond differently to nVNS.2
The most common side effects of gammaCore include:1-2
- Discomfort, redness, or tingling at the application site
- Local pain or muscle twitching in the face/head/neck area
gammaCore is not indicated for anyone who is pregnant or people with:1-2
- Narrowing of the arteries
- Vagus nerve neck surgery
- Significant changes in blood pressure or heart rate
- Certain medical conditions involving the head
gammaCore should not be used by people with:1-2
- Certain implanted medical devices, such as a pacemaker or hearing aid implant
- A metallic implant at or near the neck such as a stent, bone plate or screw
Additionally, gammaCore should not be used at the same time as another electronic device such as a TENS unit or a mobile phone.
This is not a complete list of side effects. Talk to your doctor about your other migraine treatments and whether gammaCore is right for you.
Things to know about gammaCore
People using gammaCore reported relief from migraine pain; some within 30 minutes.2 Nearly half of the study users had little to no migraine pain within 2 hours after first use. Many remained pain-free for 48 hours.2
Prescription drug treatment has been the standard of care for most migraine attacks. gammaCore offers alternative preventive and treatment options for people with migraine and cluster headaches. Research suggests gammaCore vagus nerve stimulation provides convenient and effective pain relief for the acute treatment of episodic migraine.3
Each gammaCore unit comes with a charging case, user’s manual, cleaning, and storage instructions.
For more details, read additional information about gammaCore.