TMS Advances

TMS For Migraines: Battling the Consistent Throbbing in Your Head For Good

November 5, 2020

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Migraines consist of some of the worst debilitating pain that one can go through. From a throbbing pain that consistently is being pounded on one particular spot in your head, to a dull pain that just won’t go away, migraines can make it harder to get through the day and limits your ability  to focus on work or assignments. This makes it more difficult to get up and go to work, or go through other responsibilities or plans that you made.


With the power of transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS for short, someone suffering for years with migraine pain will be able to experience a revolution with relieved symptoms and the ability to go through life without a constant throbbing or pulsating that one can experience. TMS has provided a powerful non-invasive treatment to many people throughout the years for brain related symptoms, and migraines are the next one they are battling to help people who suffer from it everyday. 


Continue reading this article to learn:

  • What is a Migraine?
  • What are the Symptoms of Migraines?
  • Migraines vs. Headaches
  • What is TMS?
  • A Real Life Example of TMS Battling Migraines
  • A Positive Future for Migraine Sufferers

What is a Migraine?

Migraines affect one billion people worldwide and can affect men, women, and even children. It’s considered to be a neurological condition known for its debilitating headaches and numerous symptoms that come along with it besides just headaches. Migraines commonly run in families and can be passed down from a parent to a child. 


While it is rare for migraines to start appearing during childhood, it is possible, but most symptoms of a migraine start to show in early adulthood. Migraines are known to affect women more than men, and that estrogen is the main culprit behind them, but that doesn’t mean that men can’t get them either. 


Migraines are able to be treated with different kinds of medications, such as pain-relieving ones and preventative ones as well. Pain-relieving medications are taken during a migraine attack to help stop the symptoms of a migraine as soon as you start having one and preventative medications are drugs that are taken daily to prevent migraine attacks from happening, or to help make them less severe. 

migraine
Migraines affect more than one billion people worldwide and it’s a debilitating condition that affects someone’s abilities to perform activities on a day-to-day basis, work, or even go to school. Image courtesy of News Medical. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Migraine?

Migraines are more than just your average headache because they come with symptoms of their own. There are three different phases to getting a migraine and they include the prodrome phase, the attack phase, and then the postdrome phase. Each phase includes its own symptoms, feelings, and mood.

Prodrome Phase

When someone starts to feel a migraine coming on, they may begin to experience migraine symptoms one to two days before the actual migraine occurs. These symptoms can include food cravings, depression, frequent yawning, fatigue, hyperactivity, neck stiffness, and even irritability. 


Someone can also experience a migraine with aura, meaning that it could affect someone's vision, sensation, speech, and even movement. They could temporarily lose their vision, have difficulty speaking, feel a tingling sensation in different parts of their body, and they can also see shapes, bright spots, and more. Having a migraine with aura most often occurs after the prodrome stage. 

Attack Phase

The attack phase is specified as the phase where the migraine is in full force and the pain that comes from it can last for hours and even days. Some of the symptoms include nausea, dizziness, a throbbing head pain, vomiting, and even a sensitivity to light and sound. This is the most intense part of a migraine attack and is the most painful depending on the person and their symptoms.

Postdrome Phase

Once someone hits the postdrome phase, they start to feel euphoric, or even happy, while others can feel drained and exhausted. While the symptoms that bring on the migraine attack seem to go away, a dull headache can still persist. 

phases of a migraine
There are three main phases of a migraine attack, which consists of prodrome, attack, and postdrome, with the aura phase affecting only certain people, and affecting sensory parts of the brain and body. Image courtesy of PhillyVoice. 

Migraines vs. Headaches

When it all comes down to it, what’s the difference between a migraine and a headache? Well, there are many different ways to categorize the two so you don’t get them mixed up. Knowing the difference between the two is essential to be able to know and understand what you have to be able to treat it. 

Migraines

Migraines, as we know, are categorized as a debilitating head pain that comes with many other symptoms, such as feeling nauseous, feeling fatigued, sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting, and many other symptoms. This type of pain can range from moderate to severe and because of it, daily tasks become harder and harder to perform. 


Migraines can overlap with an aura, making for even more pain and disorientation with losing your vision sensations, and more, along with being able to last for hours, days, or up to a week if not treated. 

Headaches

Headaches aren’t as severe as migraines, but can be broken down into five different kinds: tension, cluster, sinus, chiari, and thunderclap. Headaches are known for causing pain and discomfort in your head, but going away after thirty minutes, or up to a week. While there are no other underlying symptoms of a headache, they can be annoying and even painful, but be treated with ibuprofen, or other over the counter medicine.


Breaking down the type of headaches that one can experience, a tension headache is caused by stress, anxiety, and even a muscle strain. Cluster headaches are headaches that occur on one side of your head that can go away and come back again. Sinus headaches occur with a sinus infection and having a stuffy nose, cough, congestion, and more. Chiari headaches come from a birth defect called chiari malformation where the skull pushes against parts of the brain causing headaches and finally, thunderclap headaches are headaches that can come within a matter of thirty seconds. They can be as a result of subarachnoid hemorrhage, a stroke, aneurysm, and other serious injuries.

headache vs migraine
While migraines have been proven to be more severe and painful than headaches, both are extremely uncomfortable and come in many different forms. Image courtesy of The Grand Healthcare System. 

What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS for short is a non-invasive, FDA approved treatment that has been proven to work wonders on people who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other brain related issues. TMS involves the distribution of magnetic pulses that are applied to certain parts of the brain to trigger the formation of new neural connections and to help boost and regulate mood.


With the use of electromagnetic coils placed against your scalp, they distribute pulses to your brain that help to stimulate nerve cells that are affected by the brain related issue you or someone you love may have. 


TMS has been proven to show significant results in patients that undergo many treatments, and they start to see results even after the very first one. Seven out of ten patients respond to TMS treatments and over fifty percent of patients go through remission after going through with a TMS treatment. TMS is known for being the safest alternative to medications, and therapy where many people seem to show difficulty with improving their conditions. 

how tms works
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS for short, is a non-invasive, FDA approved treatment that helps treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other brain related issues. Image courtesy of Mayo Clinic. 

Are There Any Side Effects of a TMS Treatment?

With TMS comes some side effects, ranging from major to minor, but don’t worry, because most of them are minor anyways. Major side effects are very rare and it is recommended that you get checked by your doctor to verify that you are eligible for TMS treatments.


When it comes to the minor side effects, these can include headaches, discomfort at the site of the stimulation, spasms of the facial muscles, and even becoming lightheaded. Although these are quite common, it is rare to experience the major side effects that can come as a result of TMS. These can include seizures, mania, which is more common in bipolar patients, and even hearing loss due to inadequate ear protection due to treatment.


It is recommended that if you are interested in undergoing TMS treatments for a brain related issue that you may have that you talk to your doctor first. Your doctor will be able to tell you through a simple physical exam and psychological evaluation if you’re fit for TMS treatments. 

A Real Life Example of TMS Battling Migraines

TMS has been proven time and time again to be a resolution to chronic migraines that can be debilitating and affect the lives of many people. Using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS), it can be used to help a migraine whenever you start to feel one coming on. sTMS can actually be done right at home with a rented device that sends a quick magnetic pulse to the back of your brain, otherwise known as the occipital cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for your vision, which is something that migraines are known for affecting. 


In a study done on people who use sTMS to cure their migraines, about 38% of people were pain-free about two hours after using the device to avoid a migraine attack. The only downside was that it didn’t cure all of the symptoms that come with having a migraine and people still experienced nausea, sensitivity to light, fatigue, and more.


According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). TMS has been approved to help treat migraines and has been proven to be effective. In an experiment of 164 people who suffered from migraines, TMS was effective for 39% of people who experienced painless migraines with reduced symptoms for up to 48 hours after treatment. In another study, many more people who participated in the study noticed a reduced frequency of migraines after their first treatment.


Many people showed that their migraines and symptoms pertaining to migraines decreased significantly through TMS treatments. People tend to have slight headaches after TMS, but severe migraines have proven to be a thing of the past with continued TMS treatments. TMS is a safe alternative to medications that haven’t been proven to work and with being a non-invasive treatment, it is completely safe and in the end helps someone who suffers from migraines continue on in their life without the debilitating head pain.

single pulse tms
Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS) can be used to treat migraines at home with a rented device that sends a single magnetic pulse to the occipital cortex to battle migraine before they start. Image courtesy of Migraine Again. 

A Positive Future for Migraine Sufferers

With all of the research that has been done on TMS and people who suffer from migraines, it has been shown that more than half of people who have undergone TMS treatments for migraines have seen significant results. From relieving symptoms of migraines, to helping to reduce them to mere headaches, TMS has proven to show revolutionary results on migraine sufferers.


Migraines are no fun whatsoever, and it’s reassuring to know that a safe, non-invasive, and FDA approved treatment has shown to help people with debilitating migraines so they can continue on normally with their life. Migraines hold people back from working, going to school, and even just following through with their activities and plans. With TMS, the thought of migraine and the symptoms that come with it can be a thing of the past.


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