Open Access

Transcranial magnetic stimulation for migraine: clinical effects

  • B. M. Clarke1, 2Email author,
  • A. R. M. Upton1,
  • M. V. Kamath1,
  • T. Al-Harbi1 and
  • C. M. Castellanos1
The Journal of Headache and Pain20067:329

Received: 25 April 2006

Accepted: 26 June 2006

Published: 25 October 2006


The objective was to assess the impact of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on pain and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in migraine. Fortytwo people [mean age 41.43±11.69 (SD) years, 36 females] were randomised into high vs. low TMS stimulation groups and received 2 brief pulses of TMS. Thirty-three (33/42) individuals had heart-rate variability assessed, before and after stimulation. No group effects were found. Pain decreased by 75%; 32% of people after 1 treatment reported no headache after 24 h. Mean heart rate decreased from 79.05±10.27 to 72.89±11.35 beats/min. The low-frequency (LF) and the high-frequency (HF) areas derived from power spectral analyses increased [mean 6522±1277 to 8315±1009 beats/min2 (LF) (p=0.001) and mean 5600±1568 to 8755±3071 beats/min2 (HF) (p=0.001)]. The LF:HF ratio decreased from mean 1.31±0.51 to 1.13±0.48 (NS). TMS produces immediate, sustained reductions in pain and modification of the ANS.

Key words

MigraineTranscranial magnetic stimulationPain