New Updates on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Chronic Pain [Review]

SOURCE: Current Opinion in Supportive & Palliative Care. 16(2):65-70, 2022 Jun 01.

AUTHORS: Fernandes AM; Graven-Nielsen T; de Andrade DC

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Chronic pain is the most prevalent symptomatic disease worldwide. Nonpharmacological interventions, such as noninvasive neuromodulation (NIN), have gained scientific evidence to support their use as an add-on strategy to pharmacological pain management. The most
studied NIN technique is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This review aims to identify the current indications for rTMS in the treatment of chronic pain and its new perspectives.

RECENT FINDINGS: High-frequency rTMS delivered to the primary motor cortex (M1) is currently a treatment strategy with the most literature support for decreased pain intensity and alleviation of associated symptoms in peripheral neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia and migraine. It has been shown that stimulation sessions are well tolerated and tolerable, and the effects of daily stimulation sessions can be prolonged by spaced maintenance stimulation sessions. Despite its efficacy, some individuals
will not respond to rTMS targeted to M1. Lines of research are currently being developed to improve rTMS efficacy either by exploring new therapeutic targets, using novel stimulation parameters or more
comprehensively profiling patients who are likely to respond to this treatment modality.

SUMMARY: Noninvasive brain stimulation for chronic TMS pain is a well tolerated and reasonable add-on treatment approach for pain syndromes such as neuropathic pain, migraine and fibromyalgia. Strategies to improve its efficacy are an active field of research.