Migraine and Its Symptoms
A migraine headache may be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms a person may have. This is because the characteristic headache of a migraine attacka sudden, severe headache accompanied by light or dark spots, nausea, vomiting and too much sensitivity to light or soundmay disrupt a person's daily activities. Migraine headaches are known to last for hours and even for days, unless medications are taken or environmental conditions are changed.
Migraine headaches often result from blood vessel enlargement and spasm which are brought about by the abnormal discharge of chemicals in the nerve endings. When there are certain triggers, the arteries located outside the skull enlarge and release chemicals in the nerve endings that result to pain and inflammation. This also results to symptoms brought about by changes in the sympathetic nervous system such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, coolness of extremities and increased sensitivity to light and sound.
Known triggers of migraines include allergies, stress, lack of sleep, changes in sleeping patterns, strong odours, bright lights, loud noise, smoking, hunger, menstrual cycle, menopause, headaches, tyramine containing foods such as cheese and red wine, intake of foods containing monosodium glutamate or nitrates, chocolates, peanuts, bananas, avocados and certain foods.
Migraine can be prevented by getting enough sleep, lessening stress, good hydration, the avoidance of certain foods and regular physical activity. Doctors may also prescribe certain medications such as NSAIDS and other pain relievers, Serotonin antagonists such as sumatriptan may also be given for severe migraine headaches as well as ergot alkaloids. Other medications may include beta-blockers, anticonvulsants and antidepressants, botulinum toxin and others. These medications are not without side effects. Thus many people are now aiming for natural remedies for migraine.
TMS for Migraine
A recent study in UK has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation is effective for migraine. The British Association for the Study of Headache noted that this study, which involved 164 patients, proved that TMS worked twice as sham therapy or placebo in reducing migraine headache 2 hours after using the device. TMS uses a portable device which is applied to the scalp so that a brief magnetic pulse is delivered.
Magnets have been widely used in pain control before. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a process that uses a magnetic field force to cause depolarization or hyperpolarization of brain cells. This electromagnetic field is rapidly changing and gives out weak electrical currents. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is both used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes; the stimulation can further cause activity in certain areas if the brain with little or no discomfort.
There are two types of TMS stimulations: single/ paired pulse TMS and repetitive TMS. Single/ paired pulse TMS can cause depolarization and discharge of action potentials from neurons in the brain. On the other hand, repetitive TMS can create long-lasting effects and can change the excitability of the corticospinal tract with regards to the intensity of stimulation, coil orientation and frequency.
However, TMS is not totally free from side effects. Risks associated with this procedure include seizures, fainting or syncope, headaches, temporary discomfort, minor cognitive changes and even some temporary psychiatric symptoms. In rare cases it may lead to hormonal imbalances, immune system changes and neurotransmitter changes in the brain and in the nerves.
TMS have also been used in other disorders such as depression, chronic pain, stroke rehab, aphasia rehab, ringing of the ears or tinnitus, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological and psychiatric illnesses. More studies are actually needed to determine the safety and efficacy of TMS in migraine headaches.
If you want to learn how to treat and prevent migraine, you can check our other articles on this site.