Fibromyalgia, which occurs in up to 10% of the population, is a medical disorder of complex origin that causes chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and other symptoms. Available treatments are generally only partially successful in reducing the suffering caused by this disorder. Several studies have shown that TMS can have a beneficial effect on fibromyalgia both in reducing pain and improving quality of life measures.
Fibromyalgia and the Brain
What causes the pain of fibromyalgia? There is evidence in the scientific literature for both local effects in the muscles and connective tissue activating pain receptors as well as in the brain’s perception of these pain signals. Either way, the pain is real and causes a great deal of suffering and at times even, disability. Whatever the cause, the brain is the ultimate processor of the pain signals and that is why TMS therapy can be applied to certain brain regions to reduce pain. When pain is reduced, other symptoms such as fatigue and depression tend to improve as well.
How does TMS therapy help with fibromyalgia?
We know that some antidepressants can help to reduce the brain’s perception of pain. They accomplish this by chemically changing some of the pain pathways in the brain. Research shows that Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS therapy) can also help reduce fibromyalgia pain. TMS does this by directly stimulating neurons, increasing their activity in some brain areas and reducing them in others with a net reduction in pain. We believe that TMS therapy shows great promise in treating fibromyalgia by modifying the way the brain processes pain signals.
Below are a number of links to articles related to using TMS therapy in patients with fibromyalgia. Interestingly, patients in these studies generally experienced symptom relief whether or not they noted a direct improvement of their mood! Some studies show more pain reduction while others focus more on improved quality of life. Although TMS remains off-label for a primary diagnosis of fibromyalgia and therefore is not generally covered by insurance, these studies show clear promise. In our experience, many patients with fibromyalgia also suffer from depression. If depression is also present, TMS therapy is likely to be covered by insurance with improvements to fibromyalgia symptoms a welcome additional benefit of this treatment.
Treating fibromyalgia at BayTMS
At BayTMS, we have treated a number of patients who suffer from Fibromyalgia with good results. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, please call us at 510-809-1599 to see if TMS is right for you.
Links to articles:
Slow-Frequency rTMS Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain
Effects of Unilateral rTMS of the Motor Cortex on Chronic Widespread Pain in Fibromyalgia
TMS Benefits Quality of Life in Fibromyalgia
Ten Sessions of Adjunctive Left Prefrontal rTMS Significantly Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot Study
Modified Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation in Fibromyalgia