This seems like a dramatic treatment for fibromyalgia pain, but if you’ve had your life turned upside down by fibro maybe it’s not. An investigational device used for magnetic stimulation deep in the brain produced some striking sustained pain relief when it was tested on five fibromyalgia patients.
What in the world is it?
The new device is similar to one used for depression. It is a transcranial (device placed on the scalp) magnetic stimulation that targets a deep brain region, much like a Gamma Knife used for radiosurgery. The target is a region of the brain linked with chronic pain.
The device has four coils you place on the scalp. The patients who did the best had 10 pulses for 4 seconds followed by a pause. Each daily session was a total treatment time of 37 minutes, done 5 days a week, for 4 weeks.
The results showed that all five patients averaged a steady drop in their pain levels over the course of the 4-week treatment, and that their pain fell even further when measured after their treatment finished. Some of the patients had complete pain relief.
The treatment appeared safe, with few adverse effects reported by patients who received any of the treatment.
Why does it work?
The presumed mechanism of action is that the sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation reduce cingulate activity, which is an important area for chronic pain. This might explain the pain relief.
Obviously, more studies are to come.
- Dr. O
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