New treatment helps reduce fibromyalgia symptoms


A new French study finds a non-invasive treatment may help lessen the non-pain symptoms of fibromyalgia, like depression. It uses a magnet, instead of electric current, to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It may improve a patient's mood and overall quality of life.

"Improving quality of life is really important in this condition because it is chronic," said Dr. Abby Ableson, who did not take part in the study but is a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic.

The treatment is called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Researchers at Aix-Marseille University tested it on 38 people suffering from persistent fibromyalgia pain. Half of them received the new treatment 14 times over 10 weeks. The other half was placed in a simulation group and did not receive treatment.

Results show those who received Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation reported a much better quality of life. They were happier, in  better mood, and participated in more social activities, but those in the simulation group reported their non-pain symptoms worsening. Researchers say this treatment may provide a safe and non-invasive complement to medication for some people. Abelson agrees.

"Both patients who've had side-effects and can't take other medications or who have been through a number of other things that haven't worked," explained Abelson.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal Neurology.