Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, what is it? Does it work in fibromyalgia?
Date: 13th October 2021 | By: Dr Lourdes Gaspar
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation in which a changing magnetic field is used to cause electric current at a specific area of the brain through electromagnetic induction. An electric pulse generator, or stimulator, is connected to a magnetic coil, which in turn is connected to the scalp. The stimulator generates a changing electric current within the coil which induces a magnetic field; this field then causes a second inductance of inverted electric charge within the brain itself.
TMS has shown diagnostic and therapeutic potential in the central nervous system with a wide variety of disease states in neurology and mental health, with research still evolving
Is it useful in fibromyalgia?
A recent metanalysis (examination of data from a number of independent studies of the same subject, in order to determine overall trends) looking at how useful this treatment is in fibromyalgia has recently been published.
It showed “Reductions in pain, depression, and anxiety were discovered, which persisted for at least two weeks after the last intervention. The effects on pain and depression remained significant up to one and a half months after the final session. No serious adverse events were reported by the included articles”.
It concluded that, “In conclusion, our systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that TMS is safe and effective for managing multiple domains of fibromyalgia related symptoms and older patients may have a stronger treatment effect. Larger randomised controlled trials with sufficient male populations are warranted to confirm our findings, detect rare adverse events, and determine the optimal stimulation parameters”
At www.ActforPain.com, we consider this is an excellent review of TMS and represents a possible future treatment for fibromyalgia.
There may be difficulty in making this treatment widely available. Usually patients receive one application of TMS over 4-6 weeks.
It is not widely available in the NHS and costs about £8000-12000 for a course of treatment in the private sector.
We do not consider it a “cure all”. We believe when combined with an appropriate psychological program such as ours, we believe it may significantly improve the lives of those living with fibromyalgia. It needs to be made more widely available and the costs need to come down.