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New drug free treatment may help with migraines


DOVER — Blinding pain. An inability to function.

Migraine sufferers know all too well the symptoms that come along with the headaches.

But now, an affordable, nonpharmaceutical solution to migraine pains has potential to strike a revolutionary change in health care.

A local chiropractor, Dr. Ryan Khalsa is experimenting with a new treatment for migraines discovered recently by a chiropractor in Pennsylvania.
Dr. David Sullivan, 32, a chiropractor from Mechanicsburg, Penn., discovered a therapy called “pneumatic air insufflation technique,” and claims it has created rapid relief of migraine headaches. The process stimulates certain nerves, using only a gentle puff of air on to the eardrum to break an onset of a migraine headache. Sullivan discovered the technique last summer when a patient of his who suffered from chronic migraines noticed vibrations when walking by a printing press relieved some headache pressure.

“I tried to recreate it and within ten minutes it was figured out. By isolating variables, I used a pneumatic otoscope with an ear specula and insufflation bulb to apply pressure and the results were instantaneous,” Sullivan said recently.

That patient, who Sullivan describes as initially being incapacitated from migraine pains was discharged, free from pain and back to work four months later.

With this newfound discovery, Sullivan contacted over 200 chiropractors to spread the word. Out of those contacted, 25 doctors have recorded successful results.

“I’m just one doctor and I’m competing with a huge medical industry,” Sullivan said. “But, with great results, they’re going to have to listen.”

Khalsa, 28, who works out of Whole Life Health Care in Newington, said he in the only doctor in New England to be testing Sullivan’s technique.

Khalsa conducted the study on Barbara Harrington, 55, who recorded a VAS of level 6 out of 10 migraine. After 10 minutes of administering, she was down to 2 out of 10. She reported the headache as a 1 out of 10 the next day. Khalsa administered the technique again, and it went away completely. It did not return for the next 4 days. The headache had been constant for 4 weeks before her treatment.

“It’s very exciting. If we can reproduce what Sullivan has already done on a wide scale, which is what we’re trying to accomplish — this could be a revolutionary technique for the treatment of migraines,” Khalsa said recently.

Khalsa said he is recruiting migraine sufferers for this treatment study. The only requirement to be a part of the study is that you must be suffering with a migraine when you come in, and you must track the progress of the migraine after the treatment for 24 hours. As of now, Khalsa has tested more than a dozen patients all whom have had success. He can be contacted through the website

Sullivan said his first trial was bizarre, but exciting and motivated him to continue to test the technique.

According to Sullivan’s case study, he recruited thirteen patients who were in the midst of a migraine in order to investigate the effectiveness of the technique. All but one participant in the trial had documented history of migraine headaches.

Patients were placed in a supine position with their head slightly elevated. They are in this position for roughly three minutes, in order to acclimate to the position and the lighting and environment. Patients are then asked to rate their level of pain at the onset of the treatment, after each subsequent application, and at the completion of the procedure. Patients are then asked to rate their level of pain 30 minutes, four hours, and 24 hours posttreatment. Pain is rated with a visual analog scale (VAS) with zero representing no pain at all, and ten representing the highest possible level of pain.

The experimental procedure was administered multiple times in 30-second intervals to the ear on the side of the head was the strongest symptoms. A mild pressure was applied and if the patient reported positive responses with each application treatment was continued. The treatment was discontinued when there was no change in symptoms for three consecutive rounds.

According to Sullivan’s study, results indicated that nine subjects experienced rapid, complete or nearly complete relief from their headache. Three subjects experienced only moderate relief and one subject demonstrated no response.

One patient, 38-year-old woman with a 25-year history of daily migraines, saw an improvement after 12 minutes of the treatment.

Sullivan said his case study is the first instance within neurological literature that ear insufflation has been documented as an effective intervention in the elimination of migraine symptoms.

Sullivan said he has become more than intrigued by the results of the procedure that is simple, non-invasive, inexpensive, and easily repeatable and can deliver rapid reduction of migraine pains.

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