Evidence suggests that fibromyalgia (FM) is a centrally mediated pain disorder. Antidepressants, including electroconvulsive therapy, provide some symptomatic relief in FM and other pain disorders. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a new antidepressant treatment, which may also be useful in treating chronic pain.
As part of a larger study, four women with depression, FM, and borderline personality disorder received 1-Hz rTMS applied to the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Subjects rated pain using an 11-point Likert scale.
Pretreatment pain averaged 8.2 (7-9.5) and reduced to 1.5 (0-3.5) after treatment (P < 0.009). All had improvement in pain, and two had complete resolution of pain. Only one of the four subjects had an antidepressant response.
These preliminary findings suggest a possible role for rTMS in treating FM.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, W11A, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.