After going through a stroke, some people develop a condition called Central Poststroke Pain (CPSP). This condition is rare. But it can have a huge effect on the lives of those affected.
Many people who experience CPSP are not diagnosed. This condition can be difficult to detect. It can also be difficult to treat in older patients. Drug-based treatment can cause difficult side effects for this group.
A new study in Scientific Reports examined the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating CPSP.
Researchers found that repetitive TMS can improve CPSP. This exciting development holds promise for the CPSP community.
If you or a loved one are dealing with CPSP, you’ve come to the right place! This post will walk you through everything you need to know about this study. You’ll also learn about how TMS could be right for you.
Keep reading to find out more about this new area of research!
Brief TMS Study Overview
The researchers in this study wanted to find out why. They decided to use the rhesus macaque monkey as a model organism.
The scientists began by causing a condition like CPSP in the monkeys. They created brain legions in these monkeys similar to the legions that show up in human beings with CPSP.
When the scientists looked at the monkeys’ brains using MRI, they found something fascinating.
They imaged the side of the monkeys’ brains with the brain lesion. They found that this side of the brain showed increased functional connectivity.
This just means that the regular communication pathways in the brain had gone a bit haywire.
The scientists decided to use repetitive TMS therapy on these monkeys. By doing this, they could make conclusions about whether this therapy could help humans with CPSP.
Before we talk about the results of their study, let’s look at some of the finer details of CPSP.
What Is Central Poststroke Pain?
If you or a loved one have ever dealt with CPSP, then you know what a big effect this condition can have on your daily life.
But how exactly is CPSP caused?
Scientists have found that strokes can cause damage to your central nervous system. When this happens, it can lead to chronic pain or other conditions.
CPSP can cause a wide range of effects. These might include:
- Sleep problems
- Disruptions to daily activities
People who experience CPSP report different symptoms. Most people experience moderate pain levels and a sensation of burning. The majority of people with CPSP experience these symptoms continuously.
CPSP typically develops a few months after you experience a stroke. The most serious cases involve severe and ongoing pain.
Individuals with less severe CPSP often describe the sensation of electric shocks. They might also report extra sensitivity to cold and heat.
Of course, the CPSP symptoms that you experience might be different. CPSP can have different effects for different patients. This might be related to your unique brain structure.
CPSP is often not reported. Patients who are experiencing CPSP symptoms might not realize that these are related to a stroke they experienced.
Past Treatments for CPSP
In the past, doctors have tried different methods for treating CPSP. Some doctors prescribe anticonvulsants. These drugs help reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy.
For patients with CPSP, anticonvulsants can help improve sleep and anxiety. But they often cause negative side effects. These might include tiredness, weight gain, and dizziness.
Other doctors might prescribe corticosteroids for CPSP. Corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation in your body.
CPSP patients who took corticosteroids reported improvements in their pain levels. But steroids can also cause negative side effects like mood and appetite changes.
For patients looking for a drug-free, noninvasive CPSP treatment, TMS therapy might fit the bill. Let’s take a look at the science behind this now.
TMS Study Results
In the Scientific Reports paper, the scientists report how they used repetitive TMS therapy on rhesus macaque monkeys.
After they injected the monkeys with brain lesions, the scientists examined structural brain changes. They found that brain connectivity changed.
In some areas, connectivity increased. They focused especially on increased connectivity between the MD and amygdala brain regions. They hypothesized that this increased connectivity might cause CPSP.
The scientists looked at how repetitive TMS therapy changed this connectivity. After TMS, the rate of connectivity between the MD and amygdala returned to normal levels.
TMS therapy also raised the pain thresholds of the monkeys. They were able to tolerate more pain after this treatment.
This study is especially promising for patients with CPSP. Other studies have shown increased connectivity between the MD and amygdala in humans with CPSP.
Past studies have shown that humans and rhesus macaque monkeys share 93% of their DNA. Since we have so much in common, we tend to respond to medical treatment in a similar way.
CPSP can be a debilitating condition for many stroke survivors. And the available drug treatments can cause painful side effects.
Repetitive TMS therapy offers a new avenue of treatment for many individuals. Unlike other therapies, TMS is non-invasive and does not cause serious side effects.
TMS works by sending safe amounts of electric current through your brain. This process can restore the electrical connections between your nerve cells.
If you’re dealing with the effects of CPSP, TMS therapy might help. By returning your brain connectivity to normal levels, you can experience some much-needed relief.
Take the Next Step Today
If TMS therapy sounds like a good option for you, Brain Center TMS is here to help. Our highly trained staff members are committed to making your health our top priority.
We keep track of the latest developments in medical research. And we use our expert knowledge to optimize all of our treatment options.
If you’re dealing with difficult CPSP side effects, you don’t have to go through it alone. Schedule a free consultation with Brain Center TMS today. We look forward to helping you on your journey to better health!