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.