Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of concussions, along with dizziness and nausea, but these headaches are surprisingly drug-resistant. However new research suggests magnetic stimulation may be able to relieve these debilitating headaches in most mild TBI cases.
The findings were presented April 11, at the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians meeting in Orlando, FL, by Robert McLay, MD, PhD and colleagues at the University of California San Diego and the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System in La Jolla, CA.
The researchers tested the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which involves using a basic electromagnetic coupling principle in which a rapid discharge of electric current is converted into dynamic magnetic flux allowing the induction of a localized current in the brain.
The treatment has already been approved to treat other headaches such as chronic migraines.
The small study evaluated 6 men with chronic headaches associated with mTBI. Participants had to have headaches lasting more than 48 hours to be included in the study. Before the study, the researchers surveyed the individuals’ level of pain.
At the time, the average intensity of headaches was 5.50, but after rTMS treatment the average had fallen to 2.67.
Overall, headache intensity was reduced by an average of 53.05% and the average headache exacerbation frequency was reduced by 78.97%. Additionally 2 patients reported no more severe headaches following the treatment.
The authors admit the study is small and randomized trials with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm their findings, but they say the results show promise.
“MTBI headaches are often treatment-resistant, but in this case series patients were found to have improvements in severity, frequency and duration of their headaches after rTMS,” they said.