Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive method of brain stimulation that uses electromagnetic forces to painlessly deliver magnetic pulses to groups of nerves within the brain.
The pulses are generated by a plastic-insulated metal coil that is placed over the scalp. They can be delivered one at a time or in rapid succession. When the pulses are delivered in rapid succession, the treatment is known as repetitive TMS (rTMS).
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation used for?
Recent studies show that TMS may be effective in treating and preventing migraines.
Migraines occur when bursts of activity are followed by a period of inactivity called cortical spreading depression in the nerves that connect the brain to the face and other parts of the head. Because the brain works through the conduction of electrical impulses, intentionally introducing mild electrical fields to the brain through TMS may modulate the excitability of neurons and thereby reduce cortical spreading depression. Repetitive TMS may help prevent migraines by producing longer-lasting changes in brain activity.
Am I a good candidate for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
You may be a good candidate for transcranial magnetic stimulation if you have migraines that do not respond to medication.
Side effects of TMS are generally mild to moderate and improve shortly after treatment. They may include:
- Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
- Tingling, spasms, or twitching of facial muscles
You should not receive TMS if you have a pacemaker, shunt, or spinal cord stimulator.
Information and Resources About Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
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- Reviewed by: Kerry Knievel, DO
- Date of last review: January 10, 2020