Cefaly Dual is my new tool in my kit for working against migraine attacks! Kristen stumbled across the Cefaly online a couple of years go. I think it was sometime in the last half of 2016 when she forwarded the link to me, and I got really excited about getting one as I read the website. It’s not a cure-all, but it is fast and decently effective. I’ve been able to “hold off” an oncoming migraine by several hours by using my Cefaly Dual, and I think that the preventative setting is reducing my severity and overall frequency of migraines so far… But it’s only been less than a week.
Getting a Cefaly into your hands is relatively simple, but there are some hoops to jump through. First, this is a medical treatment device and you need a prescription from your healthcare provider. I see a migraine and headache specialist, so getting a prescription for something to help my migraines was not difficult. I am under the impression that the Cefaly device isn’t widely known yet, so I had to give her some information about it.
Then, all you need to do is go onto the Cefaly website and order one. After you place your order, just send them a picture of the signed prescription and you’re golden!
Cost and Insurance
The worst thing is that the site said that insurance wasn’t paying for it at that time, so I put it on the back burner. After all, $300 or more is a lot for something that you aren’t sure if it will help you. However, I can tell you that it seems to be doing good things by me.
Fear not! For the most part, you can use funds from a Flexible Spending Account or a Healthcare Savings Account to pay for a Cefaly. You will want to check with your individual plan before you order, though. As a side note, if you are getting health care through the US Veteran’s Administration (VA), they will pay for it if you can get a prescription. Just have your VA provider send the consult and script to prosthetics. They handle all of the durable medical equipment orders, like CPAP and supplies.
I’ll admit, when I finally got the shipping notification and tracking number for my Cefaly Dual, I was like a kid on the way to Disney World: Is it here yet? Is it here yet? Why isn’t it here yet!!!! It was kind of pathetic, really. 😀
On the day that it arrived, I tore into the shipping package and into the Cefaly box. When I got it open, the first thing that struck me is that the device itself is pretty small, not much bigger than a couple of LEGO blocks. Second, there is a great “first treatment” card, so that you can basically use it right out of the box.
There are two copies of the general instruction book: One in English and one in Spanish. Under all of the documentation, there is a hard-sided, fabric covered zipper case to carry your Cefaly and a couple of ‘trodes. I also found a wall-plug charging block and a retractible USB cord for charging your Cefaly. I like that they include a retractible cord, but it feels rather light-weight to me, like it could break easily. On my own, I added a 6-inch micro-USB cord.
Details of the Cefaly Dual
Cefaly comes in three types: Acute, Prevent, and Dual. The Acute is only designed to help while you have a migraine. The Prevent is a daily use to help prevent migraines from happening. The Dual combines both single-use types and is for both daily preventative sessions and treatment of an active migraine.
The Cefaly Dual has two settings. First, a 60-minute acute treatment setting. Second, a shorter 20-minute daily preventative setting. To use the Cefaly, clean your forehead then peel the electrode off of it’s reusable plastic backing sheet. Stick the upside down triangle to your forehead. Make sure that the point of the triangle is right between your eyebrows. It kind of looks like Wonder Woman’s tiara when you put it on.
When you hold the device close to the electrode pad, small magnets will connect to the metal contacts on the electrode pad. Then, you press the button either one or two times to select which setting you want. Once for acute and twice for preventative.
What Does Cefaly Use Feel Like?
The Cefaly Dual is basically a TENS unit for your head, using electricity to stimulate specific nerves under your skin. It feels like a buzzing, a tingling, or a slight twitch. Feeling changes depending on where in the head the sensation is and how intense I have the setting. I get sensations from about the fold of the upper eyelid all the way to the top of my head and as far from the center of my forehead to my ear canals. When the device shuts off, it feels like a tension across the treatment area (temple to temple, and upper eyelids to the top of my skull) has relaxed.
The sensation is not what I would call painful (unless you turn it up to high), but is definitely strange at first. The intensity of the Cefaly Dual treatment begins barely detectable and ramps up for the first 14 minutes of the session. You can manually stop the ramp up by pressing the button one time when it is just getting to be too intense for you. I’ve noticed that if I tap the button at the point where the sensation is just about too much for me, it backs off a little bit and stays at the same level for the rest of the treatment.
If you press and hold the button after the device turns on, it will quickly ramp up until you release the button. I discovered this the hard way and am glad to say that if you pull the device off of the electrode, it will turn off.
Here I am at work, modeling my new Cefaly Dual, thanks in no small part to the Veterans Administration (VA). It was a struggle to get the paperwork arranged correctly, but it finally happened and I got the gadget late last week.
According to the Cefaly website, the most common side effect is that the patient can’t tolerate the sensation, with a less than 1.5% occurrence rate. The second most common side effect is a feeling of fatigue during and after the treatment. That clocks in at a whopping 0.65% of patients. The overall frequency of side effects for the Cefaly Dual is under 5%.
Caring For The Cefaly Dual
When I first got my Cefaly, I was really excited and wanted to try it right away. However, the instructions (which I read before I did anything!) said to charge it fully before using it. You can use any standard micro-USB charger, or you can use the one that came with the Cefaly. Every device manufacturer always says to use the one that came with the gadget, but the power requirements are standard.
It takes about 3 hours to fully charge a completely dead Cefaly. When you plug it in, the little green light above the button will flash on and off. The speed of the flash tells you how full the battery is. Slow flash means the battery is really weak, and fast flash means that the battery is getting more full. When the light is a solid green, the Cefaly is fully charged.
According to the Cefaly website, a full charge will last for 10 hours worth of treatment mixed between daily and acute use. If the device makes long (2-second) beep when you turn it in, that means that it needs to be charged.
Each electrode pad can be used up to 20 times before it needs to be replaced. If the gel adhesive dries out or stops being sticky, it will not function properly and it’s time to use a new one. Generally speaking, they should be changed about once per month.
A tip to make the electrode pads last longer.
You really need to clean and degrease your forehead before you attach the electrode so that it sticks well. At home, I prefer to use my pain bar soap (more like Ivory or Dial and less like Dove, etc) and definitely not like a pump soap. Added moisturizers will gum up the electrode adhesive reducing the number of times that each pad can be used.
When I am at work (I work 12-hour overnight shifts) I prefer to use alcohol prep pads like you can get at the local pharmacy. They allow me a sure way to clean my forehead for treatment while still being close to my desk. Also, the dispenser soap in the restrooms is medical grade “moisturizing” stuff.
My First Impressions Using Cefaly Dual
I’ve only had my Cefaly Dual about a week, so I’m still in the honeymoon stages. That being said, my results so far are encouraging. I have done the daily treatment every day since I’ve gotten it. It’s easy to perform, and takes about 30 seconds to start the treatment. Add a couple of more minutes until the device gets up to where you want to stabilize the intensity. Then you can go and do something else until it shuts off.
I’ve had 2 migraines since I started using my Cefaly Dual. On the first one, I didn’t feel like it helped much. I had been in the middle of the migraine for a couple of hours before I was able to use it. The second one, I was able to get the device attached and working before the pain hit. Unfortunately, it only pushed the pain back a couple of hours. However by that time, I was home and able to take my Zomig and go to bed… My normal treatment plan.
If you’re a migraine sufferer you may want to talk to your medical team to ask if a Cefaly device would be good for you.