As of today, treatment-resistant Depression, OCD, and migraine are the only conditions approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for TMS therapy. However, clinical trials show that TMS can potentially benefit a wide range of other conditions, not yet approved by the FDA.
Thus, despite the promising potential, TMS remains an investigational and off-label treatment for several conditions, one of which is chronic pain.
First-line treatments for chronic painful conditions are typically medications like anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids. Other interventions include physical therapy or TENS.
However, not all people with chronic pain respond to them. Even people who do respond are prone to severe adverse effects of these medications. To make things worse, these medicines negatively impact cognition, in particular, executive functions, affecting the ability to work. Their addictive potential is also a concern. All these pitfalls can cause patients with chronic pain to stop the treatment.
Hence, experts have been on the hunt for other safe and effective therapeutic options for chronic pain, one of which is TMS.