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.
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.