Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive and non-systemic treatment for several disorders. Clinicians providing this treatment utilize strong magnets to deliver magnetic pulses through your scalp to improve symptoms of neurological or mental health disorders. This stimulates your brain’s nerve cells in specific areas associated with your problem to promote healing and proper brain function.
The FDA has approved TMS for those with major depression disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and treating the pain associated with certain migraines. It is one of the safest and most effective treatments currently available, especially for medication-resistant depression.
Since you will be around large magnets like an MRI machine, there are some reasons you may be unable to have treatment. You cannot undergo TMS if you have the following:
A History of Seizures or Other Brain Conditions
Unfortunately, the treatment can induce seizures in a small portion of the population, especially if you already have a history of seizures or seizure disorders. Suppose you have other neurological conditions such as cerebrovascular disease, repetitive or severe head trauma, central nervous system tumors, or increased intracranial pressure. In that case, you may not be able to have TMS treatment.
Implants in Your Head
Aneurysm clips or coils, metal stents, and cochlear implants are all examples of implants that may exclude you from having TMS therapy safely. Ocular implants, deep brain stimulators, or any other medical implants containing metal may also jeopardize the safety and efficacy of TMS and your implants. The field during transmagnetic stimulation for depression can heat the implants or cause them to shift, resulting in serious injuries. However, it is safe to have treatment if you have braces or standard amalgam dental fillings. Be sure to discuss your implants with your provider before starting treatment.
Implants Controlled By Physiological Signals
Pacemakers and vagus nerve stimulators are two medical implants that TMS can interfere with or damage. Your TMS provider must check insulin or other medication delivery pumps and continuous glucose monitor implants before starting therapy.
Shrapnel, Bullet Fragments, or Metal Shards
Any metal above the neckline can interfere with the magnets used during your treatment, causing extreme heat and damage to surrounding areas. If you have shrapnel in your eyes, face, head, or neck from an accident, you most likely cannot have TMS therapy. Likewise, if you have had reconstructive surgery with metal plates or screws for reinforcement around your head or face, the metal may be a concern. Ask your doctor if TMS is safe for you if you have any of these. Titanium and metal more than 10 cm away from your head are typically accepted.
Conditions Working on FDA-Approval
Despite off-label uses and research on the various applications of TMS, it has not yet been FDA-approved for many neurological and brain-related conditions it can help. Read more about the future of TMS therapy here. These are some of the conditions for which TMS therapy does not have FDA approval:
- Under 18: TMS is currently in the research phase for treating adolescents and children. Its efficacy and safety for this population must be established and verified first.
- Bipolar Disorder: Some providers have opted to treat bipolar disorder with off-label TMS. However, it has not gained FDA approval yet because manic switching is a risk, so you typically cannot receive TMS for your depression if you have manic phases as well.
- Schizophrenia: TMS can provide some relief from the negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. It is not a verified treatment option because it does not combat the positive symptoms. Most providers will opt for a treatment that will help your symptoms of depression and schizophrenia together.
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease: Research is ongoing as it is difficult to track the long-term results of TMS as the disease progresses. As with any significant health condition, it is a good idea to let your TMS provider know about your diagnosis before you begin treatment.
As more research is published and treatment methods are updated, you may still be a candidate for TMS. If you have any of the conditions listed above, you need to speak to your TMS experts in Bellingham. Providers review your medical history to ensure you are a candidate for TMS. Your provider can assess your circumstances and make the safest decision for you. No medical professional wants to deny you a treatment that can help your MDD, OCD, or migraines unless it is risky and puts you in harm’s way. Speak to your doctor about your options today.