Belgium based company CEFALY has been named by Business Worldwide Magazine as one of the most innovative companies of 2021. Here we read about how they are on a mission to free people from the pain and disruption of migraines with an innovative, non-surgical device. 

Based in Belgium, CEFALY is a market leader in OTC drug-free migraine treatment. The company has developed a life changing device which uses electric impulses to treat migraine headaches. A powerhouse item in a migraine toolkit, the device can be used to reduce, or even completely eliminate, the need for painkilling medication, helping sufferers regain independence and enjoy a better quality of life. 

About Migraines

Migraine is a common neurological disease with approximately 1.04 billion diagnosed sufferers worldwide. The majority of migraine attacks are based around the trigeminal nerve, the superior branch of which ends beneath the skin on the forehead, at the exit of the eye socket. 

The condition varies from person to person, but often presents as a moderate to severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Many sufferers also experience sickness, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, and confusion, and commonly it’s a long-term condition. 

Data shows that as well as the physical and social issues caused by migraine, it also comes with a significant economic cost.  Nearly 160 million workdays a year are lost to migraine in America alone, and the World Health Organization ranks the disease as the sixth most common disability in the world. The cost of migraine medication is also a huge issue, with many participants spending between $50 and $150 a month on different types of pain relief and prevention. 

Migraine users often have their own complex and individual toolkits, which can include everything from pain killers to sugary drinks, chocolates or ice packs, depending on the person. Drugs prescribed for migraines also tend to be non-specific to the disease, meaning that medications often come with considerable side effects, such as nausea, skin sensitivity, dry mouth and dizziness.

How CEFALY works

The CEFALY device is an External Trigeminal Nerve Stimulator (e-TNS), which involves an adhesive electrode being placed on the forehead, to which the device is connected magnetically. Through the electrode, the device generates precise micro-impulses that stimulate the nerve endings of the trigeminal nerve. With regular use, this not only reduces pain, but also the number of attacks over time. 

History of Neurostimulation

The principles behind the device have been around for decades, but CEFALY provides a safer and less intrusive experience. Although neurostimulation (the modulation of the activity of the nervous system, often using electromagnetic approaches) has been used for more than 20 years, historically it meant having a device implanted directly into the head. The results of this kind of treatment would last for years at a time, but as a surgical procedure it came with its own set of risks. CEFALY’s USP is that it allows for the highly effective technique of neurostimulation to be administered totally externally, so there’s no need for intrusive surgery or associated downtime. 


The device is suitable for anyone experiencing the following types of migraine attacks:

Common Migraine

This type of migraine attack comes on without warning and can last anything between 4 and 72 hours. Sufferers experience violent, pulsating pain, often on one side of the head, and are sensitive to light and loud noises. It’s often accompanied by nausea and vomiting and is exacerbated by physical activity.  Studies show the device offers significant improvement for two out of three patients. 

Migraine with Aura 

This type of migraine attack has all the symptoms of a common one but is accompanied by visual disturbances such as tingling on one side of the body or a blind spot (scotoma). CEFALY has been shown to improve this type of migraine attack in two out of three patients. 

Ophthalmic Migraine 

This type of attack is preceded by a visual aura, often in the form of a scotoma that sometimes comes with flashing outlines or a pulsating pain around one eye. Again, two out of three patients reported an improvement after using the device. 

Episodic Migraine

This type of migraine attack can be common or with an aura and is characterised by attacks of varying lengths, with no symptoms in between. The frequency varies from once a month to several times a week. As with the previous studies, two out of three patients said their symptoms improved significantly after treatment. 

Menstrual Migraine 

As the name suggests, this type of migraine attack coincides with women’s periods and is caused by hormonal changes. Improvement in 50% of cases.

Anterior/Tension Headache 

This is characterised by a tight, pressure-like pain that is often described as feeling like a bar across the left and right of the anterior part of the skull. Unlike other types of migraine attack, anterior/tension headaches aren’t accompanied with vomiting or visual disturbances and don’t get worse with physical activity.  Improvement in over 50% of cases.

Posterior/Tension Headache

Similar to anterior tension headaches, except the pain is experienced at the back of the skull. 50% of patients said their symptoms improved after using the device.

Occipital Neuralgia 

This is a severe headache caused by irritation or inflammation of the occipital nerve. It’s characterised by a sharp, burning, shock-like pain that travels from the top of the neck to the crown of the head. This is less common than other types of headaches and migraine attacks, and is often caused by arthrosis legions following an accident, such as whiplash. Half of patients said their occipital neuralgia improved after CEFALY treatments. 

Chronic Headaches

These headaches occur almost daily, over a long period of time – often leading to the consumption of huge amounts of pain relief medication. Again, half of chronic migraine headache sufferers saw a significant improvement after using the device. 

Safety and Studies

The device offers a far greater safety efficacy ratio compared to current oral anti-migraine medications. Although it uses a magnetic field, this is measured at below 0,2µT (i.e. 2mG), a negligible amount compared to that of an electric shaver or hairdryer. It also bears the CE Medical mark and is certified to ISO Medical standards.

The device’s efficacy has been demonstrated in numerous clinical studies since 2008, from PET trials to double blind versus placebo studies. The results have been published in highly respected medical journals including the Pain and Therapy Journal (2015),  Cephalgia (2016) and BMC Neurology (2013). The results have been impressive: CEFALY has a patient satisfaction rate of 82%, with the need of medications being reduced by 75%. 

CEFALY offers a new lease of life for migraine sufferers all over the world, vastly reducing the need for medication and other things in their migraine toolkit. To find out more, visit