There are unfortunately not many treatment options available for people with fibromyalgia, which might leave someone at the mercy of a potential flare-up. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes, and some medications, to alleviate symptoms – but there’s little they can do to suppress a flare-up when one emerges. rTMS, also known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, could be an answer to this.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which causes pain throughout the body, alongside intense fatigue, stiffness, brain fog, and more. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown – but it may relate to how the central nervous system interprets pain signals. It’s more common in women, and usually manifests between the ages of 25 and 55, but the condition can affect any age or gender, including elderly people and even children.
This is quite a difficult condition to diagnose on account of there being no standardised test – and the fact that the symptoms could point to other illnesses. According to official estimates, around one in twenty people have some form of fibromyalgia, with many possibly not realising, or receiving a misdiagnosis. Even with an accurate diagnosis, the available treatment options are limited and focus more on managing your distress.
How does rTMS work?
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an alternative approach to fibromyalgia treatment. It’s painless and non-invasive and aims to alter the brain’s activity levels using electromagnetic pulses. For example, within the context of fibromyalgia, these pulses change how the brain processes pain, bringing it back to the expected parameters. Studies indicate that this is a powerful long-term treatment – with clear improvements in terms of fatigue, pain, and mental clarity.
When dealing with chronic pain conditions, any form of relief can be invaluable and rTMS offers a tremendous amount of hope for those who have fibromyalgia. An actual rTMS session involves applying an electromagnetic coil to a patient’s forehead that transmits a series of pulses – stimulating the brain’s nerve cells. Our brains are electrical organs; this means improving the signals it receives and sends can be very helpful.
rTMS is an especially useful innovation for fibromyalgia patients and is available at select rheumatology clinics for those who need it. As research continues, and more people begin to notice the powerful, positive effects of this approach, we could see a sharp increase in its use. As fibromyalgia treatment is somewhat lacking, rTMS is a great step forward that many could soon benefit from.