How does rTMS Work?
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a brain stimulation technique that has been used for over 25 years to treat a number of different medical conditions, from fibromyalgia syndrome and chronic pain, through to numerous mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and OCD.
The treatment itself is pain free and very safe, and works by producing of a series of electromagnetic pulses that interact with the electrical circuits of the brain, changing the activity of the specific area that is targeted. In the case of fibromyalgia, the aim is to reduce the activity of the region of the brain responsible for processing pain and sensory input, which has been shown to be overactive in people with the condition.
Before the session you will be given a cloth cap to wear, and various measurements of your head will be taken in order to locate the precise area of the brain that needs to be targeted. You will then be asked to lie down on a treatment table, and one of our rTMS experts will place the machine’s insulated coil over your head, at the previously marked location. When you are ready, the treatment will begin, and you will hear a clicking sound at one-second intervals as the pulses are produced. Each session lasts for approximately 20 minutes, and research suggests that 20 sessions are required for the best possible results.
As well as reducing the activity in the targeted area of the brain, rTMS has also been shown to increase something known as neuroplasticity, which is essentially the brain’s ability to remodel and change itself in response to its environment. This neuroplasticity enables the brain to escape from certain ingrained patterns, such as the constant pain which can accompany fibromyalgia, and form new, healthier patterns instead. This phenomenon has been suggested to be the reason for the long lasting effects of rTMS, as changing the actual structure of the brain will lead to a more permanent result.
The best part about rTMS treatment is that it does not require any medication, giving you long lasting relief without the need to take pills. If you are currently taking any medications then we do not suggest that you stop taking these during treatment, although many of our patients have found that they are able to reduce their dose, or remove them altogether. Obviously any changes to your medication will need to be discussed with your doctor, and we would never recommend making any changes without doing this.
Most people do not experience any side-effects from treatment, and many of our patients actually describe the sessions as relaxing. Our patients often choose to listen to audiobooks or podcasts while the machine is working, and some have even been known to fall asleep!
RTMS is a very well researched medical intervention, which has been used around the world for many decades with an excellent safety record. For more information on what you can expect during treatment, please refer to our in depth FAQ section.
To find out more about how rTMS can help with your fibromyalgia or chronic pain, please get in touch with one of our friendly team.
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