We assessed for the first time the long-term maintenance of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)-induced analgesia in patients with chronic widespread pain due to fibromyalgia. Forty consecutive patients were randomly assigned, in a double-blind fashion, to 2 groups: one receiving active rTMS (n = 20) and the other, sham stimulation (n = 20), applied to the left primary motor cortex. The stimulation protocol consisted of 14 sessions: an “induction phase” of 5 daily sessions followed by a “maintenance phase” of 3 sessions a week apart, 3 sessions a fortnight apart, and 3 sessions a month apart. The primary outcome was average pain intensity over the last 24 hours, measured before each stimulation from day 1 to week 21 and at week 25 (1 month after the last stimulation). Other outcomes measured included quality of life, mood and anxiety, and several parameters of motor cortical excitability. Thirty patients completed the study (14 in the sham stimulation group and 16 in the active stimulation group). Active rTMS significantly reduced pain intensity from day 5 to week 25. These analgesic effects were associated with a long-term improvement in items related to quality of life (including fatigue, morning tiredness, general activity, walking, and sleep) and were directly correlated with changes in intracortical inhibition. In conclusion, these results suggest that TMS may be a valuable and safe new therapeutic option in patients with fibromyalgia.
The analgesic effects induced by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex can be maintained over 6 months in patients with fibromyalgia, using monthly stimulation.
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aINSERM U-987, CHU Ambroise Paré, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt F-92100, France
bDepartment of Neurology, Hospital das Clinicas, University of São Paulo, Brazil
cCHU Hôtel Dieu, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris F-75001, France
dUniversité Paris Descartes, Paris F-75005, France
*Corresponding author. Address: INSERM U-987, Centre de Traitement et d’Evaluation de la Douleur, CHU Ambroise Paré 9, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt cedex, France. Tel.: +33 1 49 09 45 56; fax: +33 1 49 09 44 35.
1These authors contributed equally to this work.
Article history: Received 13 October 2010; Received in revised form 10 January 2011; Accepted 18 January 2011.