TMS for the Treatment of Chronic Pain

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe, non-invasive, drug-free, and FDA-approved procedure that has been recognized to be successful at relieving major depression. This groundbreaking technology works in a way that allows electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, causing an effect that aims to control one’s mood and minimize chances for depression to occur. A recent study now suggests that TMS has the potential to be an effective treatment for patients who are experiencing chronic pain. The procedure to treat this condition is specifically known as repetitive TMS (rTMS) and requires multiple sessions at an increased number of pulses per session to gain long-lasting pain control for patients who battle chronic pain every day.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, chronic pain is considered to be pain that lasts more than three to six months. Approximately, 25.3 million adults in the United States have experienced chronic pain every day for the past three months. Those who live with chronic pain are more likely to be in worse health and require more healthcare and disability services.

TMS can control brain circuits in a safe and painless way. The technique was recently used to treat chronic pain by Dr. David Yeomans, a neuroscientist at Stanford University. He led a team of researchers who aimed to treat volunteers with chronic pain using rTMS. After treatment, patients reported their level of pain being approximately 80% lower prior to participating in the study. The researchers also tested the treatment on individuals with fibromyalgia, a condition that involves musculoskeletal pain and causes fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. Patients were treated for four consecutive weeks and reduced their daily pain by approximately 50% by the end of treatment. The study results support the claims that rTMS is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with chronic pain. The procedure has become increasingly popular and has shown promise as a revolutionary pain treatment.

However, additional research is required to improve the treatment settings that may help patients gain long-lasting pain control as a result of rTMS. The completed studies have had low patient participation and situations where patients may have exaggerated the effects of treatment. At this point in time, research shows that rTMS is more useful to treat chronic pain for a short period of time and requires extremely high levels of therapy to target higher levels of pain. A more permanent solution is vital for the millions of patients who are suffering from chronic pain every day.

For some individuals, chronic pain causes signs and symptoms of depression to appear. Chronic pain is often a miserable experience while depression has the capability to significantly intensify the pain. Between 30-50 % of individuals who are diagnosed with depression also experience chronic pain each and every day. Fighting two conditions at the same time can be exhausting and require several different types of treatment. A few symptoms provided by the American Psychiatric Association to help one recognize depression early are:

• Fatigue

• Loss of interest in activities

• Feelings of hopelessness and despair

• Feelings of anxiety, stress, agitation or restlessness

• Feelings of guilt

• Thoughts of harming yourself or others

• Thoughts of death or suicide

• Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or sleeping too much

Experiencing chronic pain can be a factor that increases a person’s chances of becoming depressed. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression before they lead to more serious health outcomes.

TMS Neuro Institute is one of the earliest adopters in using transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression in Los Angeles. To schedule a consultation, call 888.823.4867 or book an appointment online here.

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