Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Induces Long-Term Pain Decrease as an Alternative Treatment for Fibromyalgia Patients at Dr. Gregory Marsella's South Florida Chrysalis TMS Institute
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is increasingly being studied and found to be effective in pain reduction for Fibromyalgia and other conditions. The latest study of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) comes from the journal Brain (2007 Sep 14) and details an experiment conducted by researchers in France. This study was based upon the premise that "non-invasive unilateral repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the motor cortex induces analgesic effects in focal chronic pain syndromes, probably by modifying central pain modulatory systems." Because neuroimaging studies have shown that a large number of brain structures, including those involved in pain processing, are activated during rTMS, the researchers purported that this type of stimulation could induce "generalized analgesic effects." They conducted their study with the goal of determining the effects of unilateral motor cortex-focused rTMS on 30 patients with chronic widespread Fibromyalgia pain.
In this double-blind study, patients were randomly assigned to receive active rTMS or a placebo treatment, both applied to the left primary motor cortex once a day for ten days. Outcome was measured primarily through self-reported pain intensity over the last 24 hours, which was measured before the study, daily during the treatments, and then 15, 30 and 60 days after the treatment sessions began. They also used other assessment tools such as the McGill Pain Questionnaire, Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. In addition, they tested the pain threshold of specific tenderpoints using applied pressure after rTMS treatments.
The study found that
"[A]active rTMS significantly reduced pain and improved several aspects of quality of life (including fatigue, morning tiredness, general activity, walking and sleep) for up to 2 weeks after treatment had ended. The analgesic effects were observed from the fifth stimulation onwards and were not related to changes in mood or anxiety. The effects of rTMS were more long-lasting for affective than for sensory pain, suggesting differential effects on brain structures involved in pain perception."
They reported very few side effects and concluded that the data shows that unilateral rTMS of the motor cortex has potential as an effective analgesic treatment for Fibromyalgia due to its long-term reduction of chronic widespread pain.