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TMS reduced fibromyalgia pain almost a third, followed by mood lifting effect

  [ 20 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ] • December 18, 2011

Ten sessions of adjunctive left prefrontal rTMS significantly reduces fibromyalgia pain: A randomized, controlled pilot study – Source: Pain, Nov 2011

By E Baron Short, et al.

[Note: TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), involves positioning an electromagnet coil against the head (in this case left side of forehead). Weak electric pulses stimulate nerve cells in the brain by switching the magnetic field. Another recent French study of long-term TMS use, involving more fibromyalgia patients and 14 sessions spread out over 25 weeks, maintained “significantly reduced pain intensity” and improved quality of life. At least one TMS device has been cleared by the FDA for treating mildly depressed patients for whom one antidepressant failed to work.]

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the prefrontal cortex can cause changes in acute pain perception. Several weeks of daily left prefrontal TMS has been shown to treat depression.

We recruited 20 patients with fibromyalgia, defined by American College of Rheumatology criteria, and randomized them to receive 4000 pulses at 10 Hz TMS (n=10), or sham TMS (n=10) treatment for 10 sessions over 2 weeks along with their standard medications, which were fixed and stable for at least 4 weeks before starting sessions.

Subjects recorded daily pain, mood, and activity. Blinded raters assessed pain, mood, functional status, and tender points weekly with the Brief Pain Inventory, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. No statistically significant differences between groups were observed.

• Patients who received active TMS had a mean 29% (statistically significant) reduction in pain symptoms in comparison to their baseline pain.

• Sham TMS participants had a 4% nonsignificant change in daily pain from their baseline pain.

• At 2 weeks after treatment, there was a significant improvement in depression symptoms in the active group compared to baseline.

• Pain reduction preceded antidepressant effects.

• TMS was well tolerated, with few side effects.

Further studies that address study limitations are needed to determine whether daily prefrontal TMS may be an effective, durable, and clinically useful treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms.

Source: Pain, Nov 2011. PMID:21764215 by Short EB, Borckardt JJ, Anderson BS, Frohman H, Beam W, Reeves ST, George MS. Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA. [Email:]

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Article Comments Post a Comment

TMS rediced fibro pain almost 1/3rd followed by mood lifting effect
Posted by: ppmickey
Dec 21, 2011
I'm worried about the long term effects that may show up later in a procedure like this involving the brain. I think the idea could be good but would rather sit back and read the long term effects in five years, if I'm still on this good earth having survived all my other medical conditions. I have a friend who had electric shock therapy after a nervous breakdown and he has significant memory loss. I guess what I'm saying is this might be a quick fix to lift someone's mood, but I look at my friend and think about messing around with the brain and the long term effects that can occur.
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