Dr. Gary Small, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Small, one the nations top brain health experts, frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show. He is co-author with his wife Gigi Vorgan of many popular books, including The New York Times best-seller, The Memory Bible, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. He is author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.

Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

Tags: magnet | MRI | pain | Parkinsons

Ease Chronic Pain With Magnets

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 03:41 PM

By Dr. Small

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For many years, magnets have been an important tool in diagnostic medicine. Magnetic resonance imaging — also called MRI — uses powerful magnets to visualize internal structures in the body. These scans protect our brain health by identifying tumors, hemorrhages, and strokes.
 
More recently, however, medical professionals have begun using magnets to treat a range of mental ills, from Parkinson’s disease to obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, using a technique called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).
 
By affecting the electrical signaling of the brain, rTMS alters the firing of communicating neurons and improves a number of mental symptoms. More recently researchers are using this noninvasive method to treat one of the most common and challenging mental conditions of all: chronic pain.
 
Under the leadership of David Yeoman, investigators at Stanford University are using rTMS to target an area of the frontal lobe, the anterior cingulate, which controls our experience of pain.
 
Pain sensations were induced in healthy subjects using a hot plate. Later, just 30 minutes of rTMS treatment led to an 80 percent reduction in levels of pain sensation.
 
Another type of test, called a positron emission tomography (PET) scan also showed less neural activity in the anterior cingulate of patients treated with magnets. To follow up on these initial findings, the scientists treated chronic pain from fibromyalgia and found that four weeks of a daily dose of rTMS caused a 50 percent reduction in pain levels.

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Gary Small, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and aging, and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Small, one the nation’s top brain health experts, is author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.
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