Migraines are not your ordinary headaches. Sometimes, a headache is caused by a simple lack of sleep. Other times, it’s caused by stress. But what separates migraines from headaches is that they are severely painful and recurring.
An important factor that separates them is that Migraines often come with warning signs. In some people, their vision gets distorted somehow, becoming sensitive to light and sounds, or feeling intense nausea eventually leads to vomiting.
There’s no known single trigger for a migraine, but there are plenty of identifiable reasons that lead to migraine triggering. A majority of the “leads” are stress, food and drink, and sleep (specifically, lack thereof), which could also cause common headaches in some people. In some cases, it could even be feeling a certain emotion, such as feeling sad. There is no one cause, but there’s a whole range of solutions.
Medications works against migraines, but not everyone can tolerate meds and there are patients who get no benefit from those meds. Though the medication can be as simple as over-the-counter drugs, recurring pain can get in the way of normal life. The drugs don’t work 100% and in some cases only work briefly to “take the edge off”.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Migraines
That’s where TMS -Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation- is used for migraine treatment. The procedure is literally putting a magnet on your head. The statement alone can raise speculation, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Your brain triggers signals by using electricity. It’s been recorded that your brain uses around 20 volts electricity on average. Electromagnetism can deliver a harmless charge that activates neurons. By using the TMS machine to activate your neurons, it can “massage” parts of your brain that do not function correctly into functioning correctly.
Though there’s no clear trigger when it comes to migraine episodes. Research into brain activity during a migraine points out over-activity in one or more regions of the brain. TMS will stimulate the occipital cortex, which can suppress a migraine by calming brain activity. It may not treat a migraine when it’s already there but could reduce the intensity of the next attacks, or halt it from happening altogether.
TMS therapy for a migraine doesn’t even have to happen in a clinic anymore. Portable versions of the TMS machine is now available, so you can do the therapy in the comforts of your own home. The devices, just like the TMS machine, deliver short but precise bursts of electromagnetism. They are to be placed on the back of your head and used for about 20-30 minutes.
As far as success goes, it was enough for the Food and Drug Association (FDA) to approve TMS as a treatment for a migraine. People who use TMS therapy either found themselves relieved of a migraine for the whole day. The continued use resulted in many patients finding themselves pain-free, even without daily TMS sessions.
TMS technology is moving forward every passing day. First, it was initially used to study the brain and map it out. As our understanding of the brain advanced further, we come up with more ways to use electromagnetism as a way to treat imbalances in our brain. Put it simply, it’s only going to improve as research goes deeper.
To make an appointment with TMS of the Palm Beaches, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We are also here to answer any questions you might have, including about the applicability of your insurance for undergoing TMS treatment.
Humans are the only species on Earth capable of looking into ourselves. Not just in the soul-searching kind of way, but literally opening our heads and studying the brain. Our brain is what makes us tick, what makes us who we are, and nearly all of our body parts are used to either protect or keep our brain running.
Our Brains and Depression
What’s interesting is that our brains are powered by electricity. Our body consumes calories to create energy, which the brain uses to activate its cells and produce the needed signals to keep us alive and make us who we are. Sometimes, the brain fails to function the right way, often caused by infections, abnormalities, or injuries. One such example is depression, a condition where the brain’s altered chemistry causes a person’s thoughts and perception, causing feelings of sadness and disinterest. Sometimes it can be managed using drugs, but medications don’t always work for everyone. Some people are resistant to drugs, others cannot tolerate the drugs itself, and some have persistent or severe depression that won’t fully go away with meds alone.
Through the use of electromagnetism, however, medical researchers and physicians found ways to affect our brain and help treat conditions such as depression. Since several regions of the brain regulate our mood, stimulating these areas could activate neurons in an attempt to awake or realign the circuitry in your brain.
How it Works and What to Expect
Before you start a TMS procedure, you’ll need to do two tests: a physical exam and lab tests to ensure TMS is safe for you. TMS is a safe and harmless procedure, but in the realms of medicine, we always need to be as safe as possible. You could have metal plates in your body from surgery, a pacemaker or similar devices, or foreign objects that could be affected by the magnet.
Then, you’ll undergo a psychiatric evaluation, which is especially important if you are suffering from depression. When all is said and done, you’re ready for TMS therapy.
You’re going to be seated on a chair and the operator will attach sensors to your hand and your head that will monitor your body’s electrical activity. The procedure starts with the physician placing the “coil” over your head activate the machine.
The first step is to activate the coil on certain parts of your brain. When the machine is activated, it will produce a somewhat loud clicking sound and one of your arms or legs may twitch. This procedure is called mapping. Once they are finished with mapping and they have found the area to be stimulated, they will begin the procedure.
The coil will stay on a certain part of your head and the machine will turn the coil on at fixed intervals. The entire procedure may last around 30 to 40 minutes. Afterward, you may feel slight hearing impairment from the loud clicks, and a bit of scalp pain or discomfort. In some cases, you might feel some motion sickness, but all the symptoms will disappear after a few minutes.
The entire therapy may last somewhere between 25 to 40 sessions and is usually done about 5 or 6 days a week.
For more questions about TMS or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.