Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a Breakthrough Treatment for Migraine Relief?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy has been widely used in treating the symptoms of depression. Recent studies, such as those done at the American Academy of Neurology 1and the University of Duisburg-Essen2 in Germany, are now showing the extensive potential TMS therapy has in the treatment of migraines. What’s more, studies are indicating the potential TMS therapy has in opening doors for safer and more effective treatment of many other brain-related illnesses including tinnitus, auditory hallucinations, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia.

A recent study done at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine,1 has proven the effectiveness of TMS therapy in treating acute episodes of migraines as well as the capability of repetitive TMS therapy as a preventative measure1. The study based their theories of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulations’ (rTMS) effectiveness in modifying brain activity, which could potentially prevent the onset of migraines and their symptoms1. These symptoms can include:

  • Moderate to severe pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pulsing and throbbing head pain
  • Increasing pain during physical activity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound

Some researchers speculate that there is a close connection between migraines and depression. FDA-cleared TMS therapy is already being used to successfully treat depression using NeuroStar TMS Therapy®. In both migraines and depression, brain chemical and electrical activity is imbalanced, producing the undesirable symptoms.

How TMS Therapy comes into play

TMS therapy uses a figure-eight magnetic coil to non-invasively target the specific part of the brain responsible for this imbalance (what imbalance). In the study done at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, TMS Therapy relieved migraine pain of patients two hours after treatment, and had lasting relief for two days1. It was also shown that TMS therapy works best for moderate to severe migraines, whereas pain medication is best for milder cases.

Migraine global effect

The American Academy of Neurology speculates that about 10% of people worldwide suffer from migraines1. Women are three times more likely to get migraines then men, which is largely due to the hormonal imbalances associate with the female menstrual cycle1. Hormone imbalances are also the cause for post-partum depression in women. Sufferers from recurring and worsening migraines benefit greatly from repetitive TMS therapy (rTMS), lessening the migraines’ recurrences and severity.

Impact on the United States

According to the American Academy of Neurology, there are 30 million people suffering from migraines in the U.S. alone1. Additionally, there are 157 million lost work days each year associated with pain and suffering from migraines1. Due to this, there is over a $13 billion dollar loss to employers. This chain of events shows the impact migraines have on people’s health, the workforce, and the economy. Clearly a reliable and effective solution is required. More studies need to be concluded before these results can recommend TMS for clinical use. For more information on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy, We invite you to contact us.

  2. Hans-Christoph Diener, Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation: a new way to treat migraine attacks with aura, The Lancet Neurology, Volume 9, Issue 4, April 2010, Pages 335-337, ISSN 1474-4422, 10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70063-6. (