The Corpus Callosum

TMS for Migraine

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) currently is being
investigated as a treatment for major depression.  (See Psychiatry’s
Shocking New Tools
in IEEE Spectrum.)
 Now, there is a report that it also may be useful for
migraine headache.  

device can head off migraines, neurologists say

Globe and Mail

It’s like something out of a video game.

Flashing lights, vertigo, a visual shower of “shooting
stars”— the early warning signs of an impending
attack. But before it has a chance to strike, you whip out a special
gun and zap it dead with a high-powered magnetic pulse.

That surreal chain of events may very soon become a reality.

A team of Canadian and American neurologists have developed a hand-held
transcranial magnetic stimulator (TMS) device that they have found to
be effective in eliminating headaches when administered during the
onset of a migraine.

“This research is very important because at least one-third
[migraine] patients don’t respond to current treatments. There is a
need for an alternative,” said Yousef Mohammad, a neurologist
Ohio State University Medical Centre who is presenting the findings at
the annual American Headache Society meeting in Los Angeles
Thursday.The device will go through one more clinical study involving
200 patients next month before it is submitted to the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration for approval at the end of the year.

It is already well established that many treatments for depression also
can be useful for treatment of migraine.  Antidepressants and
lithium have been used for years as preventative treatments.
 Likewise, anticonvulsant medications often can be used for
treatment of bipolar disorder and for migraine.  

Now, we hear that a technique similar to rTMS can be used for treatment
of migraine.  

Note that antidepressants are not used for acute treatment of migraine.
 If you have a migraine now, and take a Paxil or whatever, it
not going to help.  But if you take an antidepressant daily,
frequency of the migraine attacks often will diminish.  With
the effect is different.  TMS can be used for acute treatment.
 Later in the article, they say that repeated use of TMS for
treatment, may also have an ongoing prophylactic effect.  

If this treatment turns out to be as useful as we all hope, it would be
a major advance.  Perhaps more importantly, it could lead to
better understanding of the pathophysiology.

UPDATE: Shelly has a more detailed post on the subject at Retrospectacle.