In my quest to improve my migraine prevention and to stop the migraines I get as soon as possible, I’m trying a new treatment, the Spring TMS device. The Spring TMS device (STMS) has been approved by the FDA for the acute treatment of migraine with aura - treating migraine with aura when it occurs. It’s now in clinical trials for migraine prevention.
I received a Spring TMS unit in July 6 (2015) and have been using it since. Even though the FDA approval is for the acute treatment of migraine with aura, doctors can prescribe it off-label for the acute treatment of migraine without aura and for migraine prevention. I’m currently trying the STMS for both migraine prevention and for acute migraine treatment. My thinking is probably similar to that of most people with migraine. I’m skeptical. BUT, I’m also hopeful that it will work for me.
Today, I’ll share how I’m using the STMS and my early results to date. Over the coming months, I’ll post updates. The image below shows the three steps involved in using the STMS:
When you push the smaller button to turn on the unit, there’s an option to set a PIN so nobody else can use the unit. Since I travel and don’t want anyone to be able to do anything with my STMS, I did set a PIN. Once it’s turned on, the larger button on the right is pressed for the unit to build up a magnetic pulse. It’s then held to the back of the head, and buttons on the handles are pushed to deliver the pulse.
How I Use the Spring TMS device:
- For migraine prevention, I do three pulses with the unit, twice a day.
- At the very first sign of a migraine coming on, I do three pulses, wait 15 minutes, then do three more pulses.
- If the migraine continues, I take my abortive medication.
My Results So Far:* ** Acute Use:** I’ve had 12 migraines since July 6. The STMS has stopped nine of those migraines. I’ve used my triptan abortive just three times. So, at this point, the STMS has stopped 75 percent of the migraines I’ve had.
- For Prevention: It’s a bit too soon to tell if the STMS is helping me with migraine prevention. That said, I think there’s a good chance it’s helping. I’ve been getting Botox for prevention every 12 weeks for a couple of years now. My insurance will only cover it every 12 weeks, but I’ve been experiencing an increase in migraines after 10 weeks. My most recent Botox treatment was last week, at 13 weeks. When Dr. Watson and I looked at my migraine diary, we saw that I did NOT experience an increase in migraines this time after week 10. Dr. Watson agrees that we have no way of knowing if that was because of the STMS, and we’re interested to see what happens in those last weeks before my next Botox treatment.
At this point, I’m no longer skeptical, just hopeful. Many of us have special concerns when it comes to our migraines and migraine treatment. I certainly do:
- On the acute treatment front, there’s an issue with taking triptans because I’ve had a heart attack. Officially, that means that triptans are contraindicated for me. It’s not that simple though. When I get a migraine, my blood pressure shoots up into stroke range. So, I’ve decided that taking a triptan for a migraine, which gets my blood pressure down, is no more dangerous than not taking it and having stroke-range blood pressure for hours while waiting for the migraine to stop.
- I also have significant vision loss from low-tension glaucoma. The last resort surgical treatment for it has already been done, so if the glaucoma starts progressing again, there’s nothing to be done for it. Since the increase in intraocular pressure that occurs during a migraine is a risk factor for the glaucoma progressing, it’s vital that I prevent as many migraines as possible.
For both of the reasons above, I’m pinning a lot of hope on the Spring TMS. Reducing the number of times I use a triptan addresses the first issue. If the Spring TMS helps me with migraine prevention, the second issue will be addressed.
In the weeks I’ve been using the STMS, I’ve need to use a triptan for only 25 percent of my migraines, a 75 percent reduction. The number of migraines I get hasn’t decreased, but I didn’t see an increase in the weeks before my last Botox treatment. It’s too soon to know if that was due to the STMS. In June, I was able to talk with Dr. Peter Goadsby, who has conducted STMS trials in both the U.K. and the U.S. He told me that the most important thing is not to give up on the STMS too soon. As with any other treatment, he reminded me that I need to give it three months at the very least before deciding if it’s helping me.
I’m taking Dr. Goadsby’s advice very seriously. If I’m not certain of my results with the Spring TMS at the end of three months, I plan to continue it at least three more months so I can make a decision based on the data from my migraine diary. I’ll keep you posted by writing about my experience again at the three-month mark.
More Information About the Spring TMS:
- Acute Migraine Treatment - Spring TMS Finally FDA Approved
- Spring TMS Migraine Device Availability Update
With fingers crossed and hope in my heart,
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.