Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fibromyalgia pain reduced by rTMS

A report from a group in France, published in the journal Brain, describes the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on self-reported average pain intensity recorded at baseline (before treatments), during 10 days of daily stimulation and then at 15, 30 and 60 days after the finish of treatments.
Thirty patients were divided up in a double blind fashion with one group getting sham treatment while the other got rTMS. Outcomes that were measured, meaning what effects were monitored during the study based on the researchers hypotheses, included depression monitoring scales, quality of life scales, scales that monitor how much pain interferes with the patient's functioning as well as the amount of pain a predetermined amount of pressure caused.
Twenty six of the original thirty, 13 in each group, were monitored through day 60 and the group that received the real rTMS had a significant reduction in pain , fatigue, morning tiredness, general activity and sleep at least two weeks after the last session was completed. The affective pain reduction was more long lasting than the sensory effects.
There were no significant side effects that occurred, as is the case with almost all of the studies that have been published in the last few years that adhere to published guidelines.
This group concluded that rTMS "...induces a long-lasting decrease in chronic widespread pain and may therefore constitute an effective alternative analgesic treatment for fibromyalgia."
Once again it seems that inducing neuroplasticity can help rebalance the maladaptive patterns that chronic pain syndromes have created. Is it the magic bullet we all hope for? Or is it snake oil? Or maybe something somewhere in between the two? Could this be another step in the right direction, opening the huge black box that is our brain just a little bit more?