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.