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Pain relief breakthrough

If you suffer from persistent severe pain or migraines, there's a new approach to reclaim your lifestyle.

There are no pills or injections but it can only be used in severe cases of chronic pain that cannot be treated with more conventional methods, according to Professor Michael Cousins.

"This is invasive, it does have complications, it's costly, and obviously for all of those reasons we want to make sure that other things are not going to work," he says.

The tiny silver box we saw on tonight's show is a pacemaker, and it's usually used to keep a constant heart beat in cardiac patients.

The tiny machine, worth around $30,000, is embedded near the stomach and connected by about a metre of wires and electrodes in the brain.

The pacemaker sends electric shocks to the nerves to help block out the pain. It doesn't stop the headaches but, when switched on, it does mask the pain.

Professor Cousins successfully performed the procedure three years ago on Symantha Perkins, wife of swim champ Kieran Perkins, after she was brought to her knees by debilitating migraines.

See the 60 Minutes report here

Professor Michael Cousins chaired a national health summit on pain in Canberra earlier this month.

For more information on the Pain Management Research Institute, visit www.pmri.med.usyd.edu.au

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