Books & Products, Treatment

Cefaly: What it Feels Like & My Early Experiences With It

You know what Cefaly is, now here’s an overview of using the device, what it feels like, and my early experience with it.

Cefaly has three programs: abortive (programme 1), preventive (programme 2), and relaxation (programme 3). Each program slowly increases in intensity for the first 12 minutes, the levels off  and remains at that strength for the remainder of the 20-minute session. You can push the button at any point to stop the intensity from increasing any further. However, according to the manual, “The effectiveness of the treatment depends on the power used. It is consequently advisable to work with the maximum power possible.”

With this in mind, and because I had a migraine coming on, I started with the abortive program (programme 1). Both the lead researcher and the manual say the sensation isn’t painful, so I was surprised by just how intense it is. I agree that pain isn’t the best description (especially for someone used to migraine pain), but the sensation is far from comfortable. Initially, it feels like a mild buzzing vibration with a sharpness to it that’s not quite pins-and-needles. As the program intensifies, so does the vibration and a feeling of pressure develops, like someone is pushing hard against my head with the heel of their hand. Then a sort of clenching sensation begins, almost as if the muscles were tightening. Again, none of these sensations are exactly painful (unless I already have allodynia), but I am always greatly relieved when the program is over. Anyone with significant allodynia will probably find this device unbearable to use.

The first time I used the Cefaly, I had to stop before reaching maximum intensity. It was just too uncomfortable to continue. When the 20 minutes were up, the migraine felt unchanged. I started it up again (one touch of the button in the wind-down period returns the stimulation back to the maximum strength for the session and it remains there for the next 20 minutes), as the manual says,

“The standard 20-minute session is generally too short, except for mild headaches. Usually it is necessary to carry out programme 1 several times, and for at least 40 minutes. Generally, 2 to 6 sessions of 20 minutes each are needed, depending on each individual. This is not always the maximum either, since Cefaly can be used all day long if needed.”

An hour at not quite full strength eased the migraine from a level 5 to a 3. Not only was I able to go to dinner with friends, I was chatty and felt good. The migraine came back three hours later, which has since proven to be a pattern. Multiple times since then, using the device at almost full strength continuously for an hour has reduced the pain by two levels and I’ve been able to function for a while, though the pain is always back after two or three hours.

What’s most interesting about this is that not only is the pain decreased, but so is my primary prodrome symptom of tooth sensitivity. For the last nine months or so, sensitive teeth on the upper left side of my mouth are a reliable indicator that I have a migraine coming on. Even before I notice increased pain or other symptoms, I feel the sensitivity in my teeth, often testing them with a drink of water. Before I use the Cefaly, my teeth are sensitive; afterward they are not. This makes me think that the migraine process is actually being interrupted, though I don’t know if the science backs me up.

Since the manual says the device is most effective if used at full strength, I kept trying to get there. If the migraine is bad enough and thus my allodynia high, the sensation is unbearable. When I have gotten it up to full strength, the muscles in my eyelids twitch, I feel spasms in the muscles around my eyes, and I cannot keep my eyes open. As I am a master at not listening to my body, I ignored these sensations by distracting myself with a podcast while the Cefaly was on. I was rewarded with a broken blood vessel in my eye.

Thanks to a phobia for all things eye-related, this was a message I could not ignore. I backed off after that, setting the Cefaly even lower than I did for the first few sessions. And it stopped being as effective. It simmered a migraine down one level on the pain scale, reduced my tooth sensitivity without eliminating it, and gave me an hour of productive time before the pain came back.

My final assessment won’t come for at least a few months, by which time I should know if it is preventing any migraine attacks. In the 10 days I’ve used it, I believe it has already given me multiple hours in which I could run errands, write, make it to appointments, or do chores when I otherwise would have been relegated to the couch. That’s worth $230 and $10 per electrode for this chronic migraineur.

57 thoughts on “Cefaly: What it Feels Like & My Early Experiences With It”

  1. I started using the Cefaly two weeks ago. I felt 100% normal for that first week and only needed the 20 min sessions each evening before going to bed. I found it quite uncomfortable and that’s with me hitting the button to stop it going further in intensity. I equate it to being stabbed roughly with acupuncture needles in my forehead from an angry acupuncturist. Yesterday and today I was hit full on by a silent migraine attack with the Trigeminal nerve firing off all over my face and feeling like I’m going to vomit with nausea, stiff neck and dizziness. It’s one of the worst attacks I’ve had this year (just started getting them). I wore the Cefaly yesterday and it felt painful and did nothing to help the attack. I’m wearing it again tonight as I’ll likely be sick for many days. What’s interesting this time around is that my nasal congestion vanished immediately. I’ve been blowing my nose all day from this migraine. It’s soooo uncomfortable to wear the Cefaly and it’s not even on a high setting but it’s doing something. I still feel nausea unfortunately and can’t eat.

  2. Hi ~ I’ve used Cefaly for nearly a year and I’ve been suffering vision problems. Cefaly will not return my emails/ calls. My eyes have gone “cross-eyed” immediately after using it, and I get huge patches of blackness after using it. My neurologist don’t know anything about it. I’m terrified that these could end up with long term vision loss. Cefaly does help my migraines and mine are life altering~ so I’m needing a response from Cefaly and not sure how to proceed!

  3. I’ve been using a Cefaly II for several weeks. I don’t have a real problem with the ‘intensity’ of the stimulus ( although it IS ‘Intense’ and I understand why many people find it ‘too much’)..
    It probably helps that I have used many other devices utilising transcutaneous electrical stimulation such as Slendertone, Cleo, Revitive which all give you ‘electrical shocks’ to work.
    However, even I sometimes prefer to freeze the intensity level before it reaches maximum level. Most of the time though I’m happy to let it do it’s own thing and I often fall asleep before it has finished it’s cycle.
    I got one because a NeuroSurgeon was recommending it as a sleep aid in one of the UK newspapers.
    I do not get migraines or other headaches but instead have quite severe Blepherospasm. I think Cefaly is helping to make this less frequent and less severe.
    Peter (UK)

  4. Hi Howard, I’m diagnosed with hemicrania and maybe tension headache since I have constant pain on the right side of my head (including running nose/different pupil..) 9 months. I tried Indo but couldn’t tolerate and two handful of other meds which didnt work. I found a (hopefully) good clinic where they do botox etc. and they subscribed me cefaly which I use now for 2 weeks. It is two short to tell a difference but I will update my experience.
    My question is, what kind of nerve block do you get? I’m suffering really hard, lost almost a year because of mostly bedridden all the time and I really lose my hope for getting better. At least, I have a diagnose now, after so many different doctors, CT, MRI..

    I hope to get the botox, but it depends on the okay from the insurance and also on the dr. which mentioned that botox should be the last to try.
    Maybe you have some more info about you/hemicrania treatment, in case you see this post?!

  5. Hi Jennifer, just saw your post. Maybe I can help. I suffer from one-sided heartache (hemicranial-continua) and have for 10 years. I have been using the Cefaly for several years and just bought the new one (one button and you hold it to increase intensity). I use it on the most intense setting and do so for 3 sessions back-to-back (one hour). I watch TV every night with it and it has been very helpful in managing my condition (along with nerve blocks every three weeks and botox every 12). Personally, I find the most intense setting pleasurable and best of all it works!. I sometimes use it to STOP an oncoming headache. I admit it does take getting used too, but once you do it is really very effective.

  6. I have been using a cefaly since early November 2016. I have had migraines since I was very young and as all of you know they affect your life so much! Anyways last year they were getting worse and worse and it was a different kind of pain right in my left eyebrow that no matter what I did wouldn’t stop. When the cefaly came I was on day 17 of one. I read how on the website people said one beep you can back off the intensity so I did this it took about 2 weeks to get used to it and be able to get to full intensity. Once I did that the migraines stopped for 23 days they stopped! Literally changed my life. I went 2x with over 20 days migraine free. My head feels clearer than it has ever been and I realized how much pain I was in before. Well mid January that damn pain above my eye started and by mid February I was having migraines for days at a time again but not nearly as intense as before cefaly. My primary care doc gave me the script for this as my neurologist is useless. So I’ve had no one to ask about where to proceed from here. I didn’t know I could use it for more than one session and last night I used it for 2 second time at full intensity. My clear head is back!! I hope this continues I’m going at this blindly as I know no one that has this unit. I am not sure if I should use it every night for 2 sessions or just when the pain comes back so I’ll expirement. Tonight I will definitely do the double session now that I know I can. I find it pleasant now at first it was really intense. I have also used it a second time in a day when I can come home and use it and nap with medication it does take it mostly away. I am so happy with this product and even if I spent that money and it gave me a few months relief it’s worth it!! Praying I can keep this clear head for a while longer. ( And I have the US version only one intensity)

    1. Jennifer, I’m so glad the Cefaly has been helpful for you. I’ve been using a different device and have had changes similar to what you describe. It works great much of the time, then something will change and I have to do more fine-tuning to find the optimal use. It’s a little frustrating to have to keep changing things, but I do keep finding relief. I hope you find a similar results with the Cefaly.

      Take care,

  7. I’ve been using the Canadian version of Cefaly for about a year.
    Sometimes it gets rid or my headaches, sometimes not.
    I use it on the most intense setting. At first it was incredibly painful.
    But I stuck with it and now it is a pleasant sensation, almost like a massage. Sometimes the 20 minutes are not enough to get rid of the headaches, so I use it for 40 for 60 minutes. Then sometimes even using it for 60 minutes does not work. BUT SOMETIMES IT DOES WORK! But many times the headache comes back.

  8. I’m not really sure what the Cephaly is supposed to be for. It doesn’t relieve any of my headaches, in fact it gave me one once. I figured out that when the Cephaly gets too intense, if you turn it off it will turn back on less intense. But it hasn’t done really anything for me at all. What’s it even for? Ok also just to help anyone out there, don’t take the Indomethicin every day. It will tear your stomach to shreds, and then you have to go to the ER and get Gi cocktail. I still can’t drink milk and have become lactose intolerant. Also, it will stop working! If you wait until you really need to function one day, like a rock concert, it will then work. Other RA meds that have helped me are (but don’t take them too often) Etadolac, Relafen, Mobic, and Feldene. Imitrex also works if you don’t take it too often either, and if you’re trying to get to a job and this is impossible, apply for disability.

  9. Coming back to give an update. I have had my cefaly for 6 months now. In the 12 months prior to receiving the cefaly, I had 11 urgent care visits, 6 ER visits, and 28 prescription refills (12 Percocet, 12 Miidrin, and 4 treximet (all at insurance monthly maximums)). In the 6 months since receiving my cefaly – I have had ZERO ER visits, 1 urgent care visit, 4 Midrin refills, 2 Percocet refills, and no treximet.

  10. I started using my Cefaly about 10 days ago. At that point in time I’d had a migraine (or a series of them) for over a week straight. I use Amerge (naratriptan) which is the only triptan I can tolerate. I’m also using gabapentin, and have tried Topamax and beta blockers long ago. Nothing really worked….but…and I’m hoping it’s not a placebo effect, things seem to be settling down a bit. I’ve had two migraines over the past 10 days, and they’ve been milder.

    One night I made the mistake of wearing the device and doing laundry. Bad idea…My metal glasses and the Cefaly weren’t a great combo, and the unit sparked! So, from now on I’ll just have to a 20 minute timeout on the bed while using it.

    I do find it uncomfortable to the point I stop it from increasing in intensity immediately. And how the book can suggest you might NOT feel it initially at start-up, is beyond my comprehension! I feel it *POW* the moment I turn it on! I find it tolerable a few minutes into the session and just let it run its course.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will make a long-term difference.

    1. Update: Almost 3 months in…Okay, so I returned my original unit because it was indeed defective! That POW from the start was the clue. I knew something was wrong but it took time to convince the company. Anyhow, the new unit is fine and just a few days into it I found I was able to allow it to run its course at full intensity. Sometimes, if I’m in the midst of a migraine after returning from work, I’ll use it for 2 sessions in a row.

      Right after I ordered a new set of electrodes I received their email about the new unit. I wish they’d disclosed the new and upcoming unit before I purchased the old one. I’m sure they knew it was in the works.

      Anyhow, I have to admit, I’m not noticing I’m a lot better using it. I WANT to say it’s helped tremendously, but it’s not. It does feel good in a strange way to use it with a headache. I guess it’s like getting a massage – when it stops you wish it kept going. I don’t regret purchasing it and I wish the stupid migraines would go away already.

      I also have a feeling that they may have more problematic units than they may be aware. When people complain of pain while using it I’m wondering if it’s a malfunction. It’s just my opinion but it does come from personal experience.

  11. I’m in Canada, bought it from Costco on Monday and received it yesterday.

    I used it the first time by pressing the button 2x. I heard two beeps, the 2nd program. The tingling was jarring and I levelled it out after 3 mins. I wore it for the whole 20 min cycle. It was okay, so I decided to try it again on the same cycle.

    I think I got up to 6 mins before I HAD to leave level it out. I only made it to 16 mins due to the pain. I felt the following:
    1. Tingling in the lids eyes
    2. Pressure in my sinuses in my cheeks
    3. Very mild numbness in my four upper front teeth
    4. Pressure in my forehead under the electrode
    5. TOTAL numbness of my eyebrows (which freaked me out at the 15.5 minute when I discovered it.
    6. And the worst of it all – it felt like some was using a dull knife to split my brain in two, meaning their was pain in one hemisphere of my brain.

    1. It did give me a migraine when I didn’t have one
    2. My upper 4 front teeth still slightly numb over 12 hrs later and (upon waking up this am) the entire upper right side teeth are numb
    3. I have a migraine that I felt through the night and woke up to.
    4. I need to take my Relpax 40mg (a triptran)

    I’m a chronic migrainuer (avg 12- 15 Migraines a month). I’ve been this way for 10 years and previous to that I was episodic. I only use triptrans to get pain relief: Maxalt up to 30mg in 24hrs or Relpax up to 80mg in 24hrs (both US upper limits). The neurologist wants me to use prophylactic medications, but I absolutely refuse to suffer the consequences of being on beta-blockers, epileptic drugs or antipsychotic medications. Therefore, I was really eager to try Cefaly. However, after last night’s events, I am very concerned and a bit scared that I have caused myself more harm than good.

    I intend to contact my neurologist discuss the outcomes of my first two treatments before I decide whether or not to return the device. I’m just not sure that a device that everyone seems to have interpreted as causing pain and gives headaches/ and or migraines to some, is worth it. However if we are trying to desensitize or trigeminal nerve in this process, and this it’s just a matter of time before it works, I feel obligated to give it one more try.

    I’ll update here when this numbness goes away. It might just be a difference migraine experience than I’m use to, which is still concerning given Cefaly caused it.

  12. I know what you mean about the triggers. I have had to minimize my alcohol intake, specifically red wine which I love. Believe it or not, I can drink tequila straight with no headache at all. Cheese fortunately is not a trigger. I would like to suggest that you ask your doctor about a lidocaine nasal spray. I believe it is a 4/5% solution. In addition to everything else that i do, if I feel a headache coming on I spray several times and this seems to stop it in its tracks – especially after I have given in and had a glass of wine.

    I have been using my Cefaly now for almost 2 years and I believe that the cumulative effect has been, along with everything else, very positive. My headaches are one sided, combination cluster and hemocrania continua which my neuro says is a rare combination. I am now down to 1-2 (at most) per week and I find this now to be a very good situation since I am down from every night,

  13. I used to have more migraines that not for about five years. They were severe enough as to dictate my life.No movies, concert, parties in other words the whole MISERY only a migraineur can understand. Switched doctor five years ago and was prescribed 40 milligram Relpax to be taken at onset (It truly is a miracle drug and allows me to function. No side effect yet.) plus Botox every 12 weeks. This combination cut the severity, duration and recurrence of pain by almost 50%. I added Cefaly over 15 months ago and this helped to bring my migraines down to 2 a week at times one only. To me this is a success! My Cefaly has only one setting and when I first started to use it I had to turn it off after a few minutes. I use it every day no exception. The cycle is 20 minutes long and after all this time I still find it unpleasantly intense. Some days more than others. If it sits right between the eyebrows it becomes unbearable. I allow myself that time
    to play mindless Solitaire on my laptop.I can’t move or the device turns off with three beeps. The skin around my eyelids becomes numb but I continue to use it faithfully. Of course I cut the “trigger foods” out a long time ago. At times I test if they truly bring on an episode or not. And sometimes yes and some times no. I am French. Can you imagine not eating fromage and drinking wine! The shame! Anything, anything, anything…will the migraines ever go away? 10 years of it and I am 63 and in great physical shape. But migraines kill everything!

  14. Update:
    I have been reading some of the comments about the Cefaly and I thought I would update since my original post in August of 2014. First, I need to state that my protocol of nerve blocks every three weeks, Botox every 12 and the Cefaly every day has worked! I also take Baclafen (a muscle relaxant) when needed at onset. Amazingly I am down to 1-2 headaches a month where it used to be daily. My only sure trigger is alcohol which I moderate – tequila doesn’t bother me at all – and I do enjoy my occasional drink so I willingly pay the price.

    I know the above combo sounds strange, but my neuro is impressed and says my case is a rare/strange one. But I am better and for that I am grateful.

    Now for the Cefaly: still use it every day for an hour at max strength. Also use it at onset and it does help. I do find the sensation pleasurable and still use nightly while watching tv. I actually wish there was a way to go to max strength from beginning, but the US version only has one setting. This thing DOES work and I highly recommend it and suggest that if you can gradually increase your tolerance it will help.

    Good luck and good health all.

  15. I received the US version of Cefaly a few days ago and tonight was my second night using it. I’m using it to prevent chronic migraines. On both nights I was only able to tolerate wearing it for 5 minutes….I found the prickly and tingling sensation to be painful and unpleasant. Especially tonight because I was dealing with a migraine all day. I’m willing to try it for a few more sessions but if I feel I can’t tolerate more than 5 or 6 minutes then I’ll probably end up returning it. I’m also concerned last night’s session made today’s migraine even worse than usual. I also felt very spacey and out of it today. I hate to think it’s not going to help or make my migraines worse becasue I have no other treatment options.

  16. Actually the ones shipped to the US do not have adjustable settings so that seems odd. When I first got mine, it was really intense. You just have to get used to it. Now i find it soothing and want to keep,pushing the button after it finishes it’s cycle and do it 2-3 times. I have learned that if you do it several times it will kind of burn the spot on your forehead where the patch is attached. Don’t give up, I to also have Botox and still use it. My neurologist only injects the Botox every 90 days though. I think 2 rounds in 2 months is a bit much. It’ll get easier, I promise.

  17. I just got my Cefaly today and used for the first time. I had to push the button to level out the strength after only 3 minutes. The pain in my forehead and eyelids was almost unbearable. I have had 2 rounds of Botox in the past 2 months, don’t know if that is a factor. I live in the US, but don’t see multiple programs on my device. Can anyone help me?

  18. Cefaly helps to pain relief when pain escalating to peak.
    BUT -for me at least- if I stay without pill (imigran) I have no luck. Even if I stick cefaly on my head for hours I can’t avoid vommiting when migraine crisis comes to its peak.
    I would recomend it to those who don’t puke when they face migraine crisis.
    Seems pain has to last a time limit we don’t know and I don’t think it is possible to have this device on your head till pain vanishes.
    In a nutcell those who suffer have to take it when pain escalates while pill is already function in their stomach.

  19. I received my device just over a week ago. With great timing, as my monthly hormonal induced migraine was on track to start ramping up the next day, and hit full strength on what would be tomorrow. Needless to say, the box was opened and the device set up almost immediately after delivery. I wore it twice on the first day, but never made it up to full strength. The sensation was very intense, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to put up with it. Day 2, I tried it on setting 3 (I have the non-US version) and still did not make it to full intensity. However, I noticed on Day 2, which normally would have likely been my first Midrin day – I did not require any medication that day. Day 3, I decided to get technical about it. Set it on setting 2, grabbed my timer, and watched to see how far I was making it into the power before shutting down the increase. Made it to 6 minutes. That gave me a baseline. Day 4 I made it to 8 minutes, and day 5 I made it all the way to “full strength” on setting 2. Important to note – during the first 5 days I normally would have been 20 Midrin, 7-8 Percocet, 5 Promethazine tablets, and a trip to urgent care for a nubain injecton, into my medication regime for pain and nausea. As of today – day 7 of what is normally a 9-11 day migraine cycle around hormones – I have only taken a total of 6 Midrin, 2 Percocet, and 3 Promethazine tabs, and no urgent care visits at all. Since triptans and triptilynes are not options for me because of side effects and reactions, I am finding this extremely promising. I will continue to wear it once daily on setting 2, and have been using it twice a day on setting 1 (almost up to full strength there now) when my head pain starts ramping up into the truly worrisome areas. I also get frequent migraines from scent & light sensitivity, so I am hoping that I will see success with those migraines. Overall – I am much more optimistic about this device than the 20-30 different daily meds my neurologist and I have rotated me through over the last 20+ years on multiple occasions, only to be shut down by major side effects (serotonin syndrome/tachycardia/dystonia). If I can keep this onhand and have it function well enough to cut my dependence on urgent care – it will be worth every penny!

  20. I just finished day two on my new Cefaly. Both days it gave me a headache that lasted long after my treatment was finished. Does anyone else have that problem? I feel the headache coming on just about 3 minutes into it, only in the middle of forehead. The other places all around just feel tingling, no pain. I’ve had to stop the intensity level both times way before I wanted to. I’m no stranger to pain but this is a different kind, wondering if it will stop if I keep on doing it daily?

    1. Stephanie, I don’t know of anyone who has gotten a headache from it that went away after more use. In fact, my headache specialist recently told me he no longer recommends the Cefaly because he’s had so many patients get worse after using it.

      My response is biased because I tried a different treatment in March that gave me head pain different from my typical migraine attacks. I persisted because I thought it would get better in time. Instead, it got worse and stopping the treatment hasn’t reversed the change. So I’m particularly skittish when it comes to the idea of pushing through with a treatment that worsens pain.

      Take care,

  21. I find these experiences interesting, especially in view of the fact that the Cefaly unit I recent purchased does not all for multiple settings (e.g. “relaxation”, “abortive”) and is intended only for preventative use. In fact it states that the unit will not cause cessation of a migraine that is in progress nor cure migraines, only reduce the frequency and perhaps severity of migraines after at least one month of daily use of no more than 20 minutes (more than that is expressly discouraged “because the safety and effectiveness” of doing it longer more multiple times daily has not been studied. The unit works fine for me on the maximum intensity and as far as I can tell is causing a reduction in the number of my headaches. I am only at the first month mark, and greatest efficacy is achieved at the 60-day mark, based on the studies cited. Perhaps Cefaly has changed its approach since the earlier units were sold and is now not making claims for aborting a migraine. I know it hasn’t worked for me when I’ve had one.

    1. Bryan, I have the Canadian version, which has three settings and is recommend for both acute and preventive use. The U.S. version only has one setting and is marketed only as a preventive treatment to comply with FDA rules. I’m glad you’re getting some relief from it.

      Take care,

  22. I have used Cefaly about 20 times. Can’t get anywhere near full intensity. Spoke with a rep. Also have tried very low intensity (so I can barely feel it). Each time it has resulted in headache. This was NOT my intention. Going back for refund today.

  23. I have been using Cefaly for about a week. I started it right before my Botox treatment (Botox only works four about 2-4 weeks for me, and I don’t respond to pain medication).

    I have a migraine/cluster combo that leaves me incapacitated much of the time I lose most of my day to daily pain (I suffer from headaches about 28 days out of 30), so even a few hours of relief is golden. I week in the hospital getting DHE treatment (which is abject misery is what is often used to break the cycle).

    I have only suffered from headaches for the last three years; I developed a brain scar after an assault induced Traumatic Brain Injury so my journey has not been a long one, but a painful one.

    I find the pain from the Cefaly device to be almost insufferable. I’m merely trading one kind of pain for another, initially. The pins and needles feeling is quite painful IMO, but the pain is a completely different type than offered by the headache, so I consider it a distraction.

    During a session I have noted, since the pain is different, I can usually concentrate on a computer screen and write (normally I am light sensitive and cannot always accomplish this), game (I hate watch television so it’s not really an option for me), read, etc. I do not interact well with animals or people when using the device. The pain becomes more apparent for some reason (this could just be me).

    After 40-60 minutes of treatment the headache has ebbed to almost nonexistent. It’s fairly amazing. Whoever said the “absence of pain is better than any pleasure”, knew what they were talking about.

    Getting through the sessions is awful; however, not as awful as migraine (certainly not as awful as a cluster) pain; it just takes a bit of gumption to put on something you know is going to hurt.

    I find medical people like to use terms like intensity…instead of pain. Women, you will note your gyno likes to use the term pressure instead of pain, at least in the States that’s true. Truth is, damn thing hurts.

    When it is over, I get about 3 hours of almost complete pain relief. If your in chronic pain, it is amazing. I do find after I use it I have cognitive difficulties being able to focus or being easily distracted. This could be due to the TBI and may not effect other headache sufferers, and it is mild.

    Sometimes after use I get a mild euphoric feeling, I don’t respond to pain meds, but I imagine it might be a like a mild ‘high’ people report on narcotics, though nothing as intense. I find it uncomfortable and distracting, but worth the trade off.

    Since I have suffered almost daily for 3 years, I will write back in a month, and let others know how the treatment progresses, i.e. whether or not it continues to work, how often and how effectively.

    Cefaly buys me an extra 3 hours in a day thus far, but it is precious hours and you can accomplish much in that time.

  24. Thank you everybody for your comments! Yesterday at my neurologists’ after having my Botox she let me try the Cephaly, and like Kerrie said originally, it prevented an oncoming attack but after a few hours it was back with a vengeange and I had to resort to triptans. So far my best treatment has been the Botox with a near-total sugar stop since the beginning of the year, I have only had four attacks in a month and a half when they used to be almost daily. Here in Finland the importer of Cephaly has an offer, that you can return it after some months if it is not working for you and you get a refund so that the trial would have cost you some $100. I find that fair, but for now I will stick to what’s working for me.

    1. Mari, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you’ve found something that seems to be working for you. In the U.S. there’s a 60-day return window on the Cefaly, but that’s not enough time for many people to decide if it will work for them. I think the rental period in most countries is longer than that.

      Take care,

  25. I’m sorry if it doesn’t really work for you. I had other advice – you do the LOWEST setting that’s effective – and that actually works better. This is not better working if you’re in pain. It’s better if you’re relaxed, put on warm blankets, prop up with pillows, wear a neck wraparound pillow to keep the neck and jaw from drooping and disturbing the Cefaly, and let it relax. If it’s not working the tension in the nerves that are tense, it’s not effective for everyone. I love mine and think it feels amazing, and have fallen asleep using it, not even hearing the final beep. I don’t know how anybody can work while wearing it, my eyes want to close while it’s in use during the more intense times. And I’ve learned it’s better to move the edges at least a thick finger’s width above the browbone, away from the eyes. I use my 3rd setting most often. I have chronic migraine, and have had it six weeks, using generally twice a day and it’s changed my life. I’ve spent years on preventative medications that caused really bad side effects and didn’t even work. Currently, I take B and D3 vitamins and magnesium supplements, Petadolex, and have Botox for migraine, and use the Cefaly. The others have done good, but Cefaly has been the biggest change for me. bless

  26. I have been using my Cefaly since September. I was going to return it but for some reason changed my mind. Now I find myself using it all the time. It no longer feels so intense I can’t stand it, it’s soothing. In fact, I find myself (which I know I shouldn’t) repeating the treatment several times just for the relief. If I could implant a “permanent” Cefaly into my brain I WOULD! I’m tired of the headaches everyday! I would also like to say I agree with Howard above on these issues:
    1. Battery doors do not stay shut. The locks are a little flimsy and you have to be careful
    2. Stray movements (eg. yawn, sneeze, etc) cause it to “triple beep” and reset to start. Annoying – they say you can move around normally, I have not found that to be true and use it while staying stationary in front of the TV.
    3. Electrode patches could be better – sometimes I get 2 weeks, sometimes only a week.

    Thank you,

    Cliffa Gaddis

  27. I have been using it since May, 2014 and love it.


    I am a 70 year old male and for the last 12 years I have suffered from hemicrania continua – a one sided headache, always in the same spot (over my right eye) that registers as an intense cluster headache ( my neuro says I actually have a combo of the two). The only effective drug is indomethicin – that’s how they confirm the diagnosis if it responds to the drug, as it did. One side effect of indo is stomach problems – I ended up with a double ulcer on the lowest possible dose. After that it was a variety of drugs, all with notable side effects that i refused to take. The treatment then was limited to nerve blocks every 3 weeks which kept them under control (several a week) by lowering the intensity.

    When the Cefaly became available in the US, I jumped at the chance to find anything that would ameliorate these daily headaches. Mine was delivered the beginning of May 2014 and I immediately put it to use. Admittedly the first day I had to limit the intensity; each day after that for about a week I increased the strength until I got to the maximum. Now I use it daily for about one hour (3 20 minute sessions) at the maximum strength and like on either poster noted, I actually find it pleasurable. Most importunely, combined with my other treatments (nerve blocks every 3 weeks, Botox every 12) I am now down to 3-4 severe headaches in a 3 week period – where before it was a daily event. I know that I have a high tolerance for pain, but I strongly suggest that you slowly increase the strength until you can tolerate it; the benefits are worth it.

    FYI I also use it at the onset of a headache and if I catch it fast enough I can stop it in it’s tracks.

    Bottom line is that I highly recommend this device for those that suffer from any intense type of headache. It works.

    Comments on device:

    1. Battery doors do not stay shut. The locks are a little flimsy and you have to be careful
    2. Stray movements (eg. yawn, sneeze, etc) cause it to “triple beep” and reset to start. Annoying – they say you can move around normally, I have not found that to be true and use it while staying stationary in front of the TV.
    3. Electrode patches could be better – sometimes I get 2 weeks, sometimes only a week.
    4. The leads (that meet the electrodes) are flimsy and can be bent/moved out of place easily. Be careful how you handle the device.

  28. I just got mine today, tried the preventative setting twice (for a change, I don’t have a migraine) – and the intensity just about killed me. I find it extremely painful, weird, and unpleasant – I had to grit my teeth to keep myself from ripping the thing off and flinging it against the wall. I felt as though my head was going to explode (it also started feeling as though I was developing a hideous, weird migraine centred on the middle of my forehead, where the electrode was – I don’t get them there, I get the typical, unilateral migraine – but once the device was off, I didn’t have a migraine at all). I also find it really chintzy – cheaply made, I mean. I hope it holds up over time, considering the hundreds I paid for it. If it works, though, I’ll replace it if it breaks. My migraines have made my life a living hell.

    1. I’m sorry it was so painful. A lot of people have success stopping the intensity early in the program and only using it for a few minutes at first to get used to it. I agree it does feel pretty flimsy. Mine has held up for a year and half that time I used it daily.

      Best of luck. I hope it helps you.


  29. I just want to provide my experience so far to others who may be curious. Firstly, I’d like to mention that I never knew what a TENS device was and did not know there ARE MUCH CHEAPER VERSIONS of this. Secondly, I bought the Canadian version without a script, not sure how I succeeded there but I received it 6 weeks later.

    The first time I used it I had such a clear head the rest of the day. I was amazed… I honestly can not remember the last time I did not have at least some sort of pain going on in my head.

    I could NOT make it through the preventative version without toning down the intensity. Trust me… it is intense. It feels like someone is drilling into my head. The pressure is ridiculous… So do not be surprised if it hurts you because I’m willing to bet it will. You will have to decide whether or not it is worth it for 20 minutes of pain vs 24hrs to however many months your migraine can last. (longest is 6 months for me)

    Today I tried it for the first time during an oncoming migraine and the first settings (which is used to stop a migraine) is more directly powerful than the preventative. I tried for as long as I could bare it (5 mins) before I had to turn it off. In those 5 minutes my migraine was gone.

    I am currently on propranolol. I am supposed to be taking 120mg but I have been slowly decreasing since I received Cefaly. I am waiting for it not to work? Nothing ever works for me so… I am hoping I am completely wrong and that this will continue to perform as beautifully as it has so far.

    I wish you all the best in finding a solution.

  30. Hi,
    You described the way I feel about cephally EXACTLY! I don’t have alldynia with my migraines but I do find this device quite painful (the pressure on one side can mimic a headache), the pressure sensation is unpleasant and I also can not open my eyes when it’s in use, the muscles and tingles are too hard to control.

    I read positive reviews about this product where people said ” felt amazing” and I believe we must all interpret the nerve signals very differently!

    Having said that I haven’t noticed much of an improvent but I use it on the odd occasion just in case.

    Personally, for me, nothing has beaten the drug combo of daily inderal, plus zomig & ibuprofen when a migraine comes on. :-/

    1. Emily,

      Some people find it effective as an acute treatment, while others do better using it for prevention. If it’s not too painful for you to use for 20 minutes daily, you might find it is more beneficial for you as a preventive treatment. In either case, I’d stick with the lowest setting or even stop it before it gets to full power.


  31. I tried Cefaly, too. It started out feeling terrible and strange, but now I find the sensation pleasant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help my migraines. I have more details about my experience with Cefaly up on my website and I’m also selling mine for $150.

  32. Hi there i have been using on program 2 for around three months now with no severe migraines since i started (I normally get about 5-6 a year and some of these result in hospitalization).
    I too find it very intense and even now I have to stop the intensity from getting too much by pressing the button after about 8 minutes. Do as much as you can before you press it and work your way up to the 12 minutes. It also helps with just minor headaches making them go away completely for me. If I do 2 sessions in a row i get random twitching on my forehead after wards for a few minutes but nothing too bad, Good luck to all of you!!

  33. I received my Cephaly 2 days ago. As I havent had a migraine yet I tried program 3 but the pain was so intense I only lasted a few minutes before having to take it off. I tried it quite a few times over the last 2 days with the same result. As I paid $360 for it I am extremely worried.
    I have contact the manufacturer to see if I can return it as I cant see me getting any relief from a device that causes me more pain than a migraine!

    1. I’m so sorry, Hope. I’m hearing that from more and more people. Some say they eventually adjust to it by starting on program 3 (the “relaxation” setting) and work up to a stronger setting, but it sounds like you’ve probably tried that. Let me know if the manufacturer agrees to a refund.

      Take care,

  34. I just received my Cefaly device. I’e tried it twice, but found the stimulation becomes too intense very early in the cycle. After a 20 minute session my headache has increased. I’m waiting for info from the manufacturer before I continue use. I’m still hopeful, but if it doesn’t work for me, I will continue hoping it works for others.

  35. Linda, I’m thinking that the makers of the device didn’t take into account the increased sensitivity of migraineurs!

    Nilofer, you’re welcome!

    Steph, haven’t mentioned it to the manufacturer yet. Was only a problem once, so maybe I had it on too close to my eyes?

    Julia, thanks for the concern. EMFs aren’t currently on my list of worries, though that may well change.

    Sean, I’m with you there!

    Connie, migraineurs are prone to allodynia, which is extreme sensitivity to touch ( I’m guessing that’s the issue for those of us who are sensitive to the Cefaly. I’ve gotten used to the sensation over time, though I’m more sensitive to it depending on how severe my migraine is at the time. I don’t think continuing to use it will cause harm, though if it is painful enough to cause you distress, that might be enough of a reason to stop.


  36. SEAN

  37. The first time I used Cefaly today I felt exactly as you described it – very painful with a tremendous pressure on my forehead, I could only stand the pain for a minute then I had to stop. My husband who does not have migraines tried it too and he felt a wonderful pulsating sensation. So I guess the pain we feel must be from an inflamed trigeminal nerve or something. I can’t explain it otherwise. I don’t know if I should continue with this therapy as I don’t know which is worse my migraines or then pain from the Cefaly.

  38. Julia, I don’t know about you, but when I have a migraine I would do anything to find relief, even if it means exposing me to harmful effects that may or may not affect me in the future.


  40. This is an interesting concept… It is similar to what is used in physical therapy for my chronic back pain. Like your headaches, the nerves are ‘calmed’ or what not and the pain dulls temporarily. I was thinking about having similar electrical stimulation applied to the muscles of your face… As the Cefaly does. It would cause all of the contacted muscles to contract…
    And those muscles are so thin! I can only imagine this is a very interesting experience.
    I am thrilled to hear that your pain is dulled at least temporarily. I am sorry about the eye. Did you mention this to the manufacturer?

  41. I’m so glad to hear you say that! I have found using the device to be downright painful – almost exactly as you described it, even the twitching eye – and a few times, have had to stop before the cycle was over. But mostly I use the strongest setting and use it for at least an hour. At the very least, the relief when I take it off makes it feel like my pain level has decreased. I’ve been using it for about a month and, like you, find that it does buy me a couple of better hours before the pain reverts to its regular level. I’m so glad you’re sharing your experience with the Cefaly, as I’ve had trouble finding anyone else to compare with. Thanks! Linda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *