RTMS London is the only UK rheumatology clinic specialising in repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for fibromyalgia (pain driven by brain changes) and chronic musculoskeletal pain, linked to Symptomatic Hypermobility. We also provide Peripheral Magnetic Stimulation for localised back pain, shoulder and gluteal muscle pain, typically found in patients with generalised joint hypermobility (GJH) and hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).
This pioneering clinic is run by renowned consultant physician and rheumatologist Dr Stephanie Barrett. Included in Tatler’s “Top 250 Doctors” list, Dr Barrett has had many years of experience as a rheumatology consultant, having worked at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and as an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College. She was also elected as President of the Royal Society of Medicine, Rheumatology section in 2017-18, where she organised ground-breaking educational programmes, including the introduction of the concept of neuromodulation (such as rTMS) for the treatment of chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Her passion for rheumatology and excellence in patient care has led her to the creation of RTMS London, her second private Harley Street rheumatology clinic. RTMS London aims to improve pain management for fibromyalgia and chronic non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain sufferers, people who have been historically neglected, with few treatment options available to them. The treatments are unique as they are non-invasive and non-pharmacological in their approaches.
What is rTMS?
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is a therapy where electromagnetism is used to painlessly target specific areas of the brain, specifically the pain processing network, which is known to have altered activity in people with chronic pain. Overactivity in this network is believed to be responsible for the phenomenon of “pain amplification” that these patients experience. This therapy has been shown to improve the brain’s ability to remodel its connections by increasing something known as neuroplasticity, thereby changing how it transmits and processes pain. In this way rTMS helps to restore healthy pain pathways.
Hypermobile and hEDS patients are prone to having frequent micro and macro muscle and tendon injuries, due to a hereditary difference in collagen formation. This can lead to a build-up of pain and, eventually, pain amplification in the brain. It is also commonly associated with fatigue, sleep disturbance and brain fog.
rTMS can provide breakthrough treatment for chronic non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia, but also give long-lasting improvements in overall pain perception and management.
NICE, a part of the Department of Health and Social Care in England, has researched rTMS and found no major safety concerns. It also approved rTMS for treatment of depression some years ago. From these patients we know that rTMS has an excellent safety profile. There is a minor risk of seizures, however, the risk from rTMS is similar to the risk associated with taking anti-depressant medication. We do not give rTMS to patients with epilepsy or with metal implants in the heart, brain or cochlear.
The therapy involves transmitting magnetic pulses through a coil placed on the scalp. Sessions last for 20-30 minutes and the patient simply lies comfortably on a treatment couch. Treatment involves a soft clicking noise and a mild tapping sensation on your head, at the speed of a slow heartbeat. Most patients do not report this as unpleasant, and some even find it relaxing. The same protocol that we use for pain is also used for depression and anxiety, meaning that many of our patients report significant improvements in these areas as well.
What is it used for?
rTMS is commonly used to treat depression, and has full FDA and NICE approval for this condition. This treatment changes how the brain processes electrical signals, so can be useful in a variety of neurological conditions. However, the purpose of our clinic is to use it to treat chronic non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia.
A review of the research on rTMS and fibromyalgia found that this treatment can reduce pain, anxiety and depression. Not only this, but the reduction can continue to be seen long after the initial treatment has ended.
Why choose RTMS London?
Dr Stephanie Barrett and her team at RTMS London have a real passion for quality patient care.
During her time as a consultant, Dr Barrett has worked with patients who have non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia for more than 20 years. Her dissatisfaction with the available treatments has led her to research alternative options, including rTMS. The fact that there are no licensed medications for this type of pain in the UK has driven her to find non-invasive, medication-free, safe and well tolerated treatments in rTMS and Peripheral Magnetic Stimulation. The treatments turn the lives of chronic pain sufferers around.
Genuine passion, extensive clinical experience and patient-centred care are the drivers behind this ground-breaking clinic.
RTMS London is the only UK clinic specialising in Magnetic Shockwave Therapy (Peripheral Magnetic Stimulation) for chronic pain. This is a treatment where the electromagnetic pulses are applied directly to the muscles themselves, helping to relieve pain and tightness in these areas. Research has also demonstrated that as well as giving direct relief to the muscles, the treatment also increases blood flow to the areas of the brain associated with the painful body part (Pubmed), again helping to improve brain plasticity and reducing the effects of the pain amplification. Whilst other clinics may offer this as an option, this specialist rheumatology clinic provides a unique service with quality patient screening, individualised treatment plans and thorough aftercare.
– Patient satisfaction
A quality clinical team, state of the art facilities, and specialist knowledge in fibromyalgia all result in patients with an improved quality of life. Read more about the patient experience here.