Nothing says “something is wrong with your body” like pain. This primal sensation is what has kept us alive as a species and the brain does what it can to ensure that we feel them properly. Our nerves do a great job of delivering messages to the brain to make sure we are aware that something is damaged.
That’s not always the case though. Nerve and brain damage can sometimes cause the brain to feel pain even though nothing is particularly wrong with the area. One of these cases of chronic pain is called Neuropathy.
Neuropathy and Pain
There are many cases of Neuropathy and other chronic pain issues. But the most common reason why it happens is due to nerve damage, or issues with the way the brain perceives pain. There are treatments for these, including drugs such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioid-type pain relievers. These treatments are proven to work time and time again, but like all drugs, they have their own share of issues and drawbacks. One such drawback is toxicity due to constant exposure to the drugs. There’s also nerve surgery which is effective, but is invasive and could cut a deep hole in your pocket unless you have really good insurance.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Old Tech, New Ways
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been used decades ago, but not as a form of treatment. TMS was used as a way to map out brain damage and function in stroke patients and patients who suffered head trauma. Recent discoveries in brain function revealed that activating parts of your brain using electromagnetic pulses can “train” it to function better, or at least back to normal.
TMS is basically putting a magnet over your head and using that magnet. The magnet delivers electromagnetic pulses to your brain. The cells of your brain react to these electromagnetic waves. They activating them as if the brain itself commanded them to. The process harmless and adverse effects are both rare and conditional. These effects included motion sickness or chronic migraines. The procedure lasts for 30-60 minutes. These are done daily for 4-6 weeks, but some programs may differ in frequency.
Promising TMS Treatments for Chronic Pain
There are few approved TMS therapies for chronic pain. Progress is increasingly good. Clinical trials with large sample groups have shown that the therapy causes an analgesic effect that gives temporary relief from chronic pain. Further clinical trials explored different frequencies and methods on a multitude of patients. These revealed that electromagnetic stimulation not only creates an analgesic effect but also “train” parts of the brain to adjust to the pain caused by Neuropathy. This could lead to more permanent ways to reduce the pain, or even lead to curing it.
People who suffer from depression due to their chronic pain issues will find themselves relieved of the depression as well. TMS deep brain stimulation can help the brain generate dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or brain chemical responsible for happiness. Solving depression and relieving pain using a non-invasive, non-health-detrimental procedure ought to cause a euphoria more rewarding than any drug.
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.
The idea of placing magnets on your head may seem odd as a medical procedure. But, nowadays, it is a method used to treat many mental conditions. This treatment, like any other therapies looking to treat mental illnesses, doesn’t offer an absolute guarantee for success. So, how successful is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
How TMS Works
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is exactly that. They place a high power electromagnet on key places on your scalp or forehead. This is to deliver magnetic pulses that affect your brain cells. There is no surgery, needles, cutting, or any other invasive procedures involved other than maybe a little adhesive. TMS stimulates certain areas of the brain, targeted to treat depression. According to some research, it also has potential to treat autism or Asperger’s.
An Alternative to Pills
People who seek alternatives to dangerous mood-controlling medications can now turn to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. In some cases, people who suffer depression do not respond to psychiatric drugs. Some cannot tolerate the drugs or find other holistic methods ineffective. In other cases, patients cannot use drugs to treat their conditions. An example would be pilots or other people who need to be functional while under treatment and cannot take psychoactive drugs.
Depression is a gripping condition. It cannot easily be detected due to a person’s inclination to isolate themselves. The condition can go undetected due to ignorance and misinformation of people around the affected person. This is often the case for adolescents who cannot tell depression from the normal roller-coaster emotions of puberty. If left unattended, depression can lead to further damages to the person quality of life. In severe cases, it can end in suicide or other permanent damage.
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TMS Success Rate
According to most clinics that offer TMS, the success rate of treating persistent depression with TMS range between 70% to 80%. In severe cases of depression, the full treatment has a 60% to 75% success rate. This is to fully treat or significantly reduce the symptoms. The treatment involves numerous sessions, lasting 25 or more procedures. The effect is gradual and may come with some side effects, but all can be managed. Once a patient reaches about half the recommended treatment cycles, dramatic improvements can be seen.
The success rates are not just from the treatment alone. Like all manner of conditions such as addiction, maintenance is key. The success rate is solid, but maintenance is what keeps remission at bay.
Nearly 20% of patients who undergo this treatment do not produce successful results. But for those who did find the treatment effective, their lives have been changed for the better. Their days in the dark have brightened to a colorful new perspective. They are given hope for better living that everyone else experiences naturally. This chance of a better life reflects how TMS can offer a positive impact.
Still, TMS is still a young technology. Further clinical trials are done every day to see how else TMS can improve and affect the brain. There are clinical trials already set to try TMS treatment on people suffering from constant migraines. Further research can only tell how we can benefit from TMS and how the therapy can be used more effectively.
To set up an appointment for TMS in Florida or to simply ask any questions you might have about the procedure, feel free to contact us anytime.
Before modern techniques, electrodes were surgically implanted in the brain to treat pain. But this invasive procedure has many drawbacks. Nowadays, a non-invasive treatment for pain holds promise for patients. This popular treatment is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
Before we delve into TMS, let us dig deeper into the mechanism of pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain refers to the pain that lasts more than 6 months. This painful experience can range from mild to excruciating degrees. It may also be continuous or episodic. When the pain is both continuous and excruciating, patients are often left unable to complete daily tasks. It leads to both physical and emotional problems. This, in turn, leads to negativity at work, home, business, relationships, and mental health.
Chronic pain is usually caused by trauma (e.g. injury, accidents). It can also be caused by an illness or infection. Signs and symptoms of chronic pain include the following:
- Recurring or ongoing pain that does not go away
- Mild to excruciatingly severe pain
- Sensations of shooting, aching, burning
- Stiffness, soreness, discomfort, and tightness
- Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, irritability, stress, and low self-esteem
TMS For Pain Management And Treatment
TMS is used to treat chronic pain and major depression. The brain’s circuit activity is altered by the magnetic field produced by TMS. This method has a huge advantage over pain prescription medications. Drugs usually get inside the body causing a large number of side effects. On the other hand, TMS produces minor side effects since the therapy is directly delivered to the brain.
Evidence Of TMS Efficiency In Treating Pain
A study has found out that the repetitive implementation of TMS to patients resulted in a consistent reduction of pain scores. The results showed that pain scores were reduced by 15% for a week. But, scientists encourage more research in regard to TMS. This is to improve its efficiency in managing and treating pain.
How Is TMS Applied?
Clinical studies found out that the motor cortex is the best target for TMS and its treatment of pain. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) is also given to patients. In this method, series of pulses are targeted to the brain and is delivered in rapid succession. This is all done in a single session. But, different techniques are applied to different people. This is due to the fact that people vary in their reactions to TMS treatments.
To provide a long-lasting pain treatment, multiple sessions of repetitive TMS (rTMS) is delivered to the patient. Multiple sessions affects the connectivity of the brain. It can alter the circuits responsible for pain thus reducing it. Some treatments are required to be administered daily during the early phases. Then, it is reduced to weekly therapies and monthly therapies. Treatments can last for months or even year.
TMS is best used to treat pain and depression. It is recommended for those who experience debilitating side effects from prescription medications. TMS is used to alter brain activity. Doing this non-invasive procedure also results in a few side effects, making it a great alternative for those who don’t respond well to medication.
What Causes Migraines?
Up to now, the medical community cannot explain how and what causes migraines. Most of the theory surrounding the cause of migraines points to genetics. Some people are predisposed to having migraines because of their biological makeup. However, insufficient studies about the origin of a migraine make it even difficult to get treatment.
Migraine Treatment Methods
However, medical science has developed several ‘cures’ to relieve symptoms of migraines. These include using:
- Available over the counter drugs
- Supplements to boost overall health and to prevent migraines from occurring
- Application of herbs, ointments, and other options
If you are constantly suffering from migraines, and are tired of the usual medications available, then TMS therapy might be for you.
What is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) uses magnetic pulses that stimulate brain cells. Initially, the method helped experts understand how the brain works. But recent studies show that it can help treat depression and other mental conditions like autism and anxiety.
TMS therapy in a migraine usually comes in a handheld portable device and you can place it on your head. This device will send out magnetic pulses through the skin with a single press of a button. The pulses from the machine can vary from single pulse (sTMS) to repeated pulses (rTMS). You can also customize the strength, frequency, and duration of the pulses.
Can TMS Treat Migraines?
Single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS) is a unique method of treating acute migraines. Previous studies show that sTMS helps decrease symptoms of migraines. sTMS can work without medication and has practically no serious side effects. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has even approved TMS therapy in treating and preventing migraines.
There are only a handful of studies about TMS therapy in treating migraines, though. But most of them have concluded that TMS is a safe and effective alternative treatment for reducing, preventing, and treating migraine symptoms and their intensity.
Common Side Effects
Common side effects of TMS are mostly mild to moderate and may include:
- Scalp discomfort
- Twitching of facial muscles
- Worsening of migraines
- Tingling sensations
- Sleepiness during treatment sessions
Serious Side Effects of sTMS
Serious side effects from sTMS are rare but when they occur, they can include the following:
- Inflamed sinuses (sinusitis)
- Difficulty in speaking or comprehension
- Feeling unusually energetic or “wired”
- Mania for people with bipolar disorder
That being said, sTMS may also not be appropriate for you if you have a family history of epilepsy or seizures. Do not use or undergo sTMS therapy if you have the following:
- Metal in or near your head, neck, or upper body
- Bullet fragments near the head
- Facial tattoos
- Ear implants
TMS machine acts like MRI and can affect metallic objects. These metallic components can malfunction, heat up, or move during treatment.
If you’ve tried all various medications to prevent and cure migraines, then it might be time to try TMS. This new method doesn’t produce serious side effects and very safe to use. It’s a proven method in people who can no longer tolerate taking drugs to relieve pain associated with migraines.