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Spring TMS: A Patient’s Experience

Spring TMS device imageOf all the new treatment roller coasters I’ve been on, the Spring TMS brought the most emotional ups and downs. I anticipated its release for 10 years, which means I’d stored up a decade of expectation. Nothing but a complete cessation of my migraine attacks could have lived up to that much hype. Here’s how the trial went for me:

Week 1

I still had constant head pain, but little fatigue and not much cognitive dysfunction. The reduction in fatigue and cognitive dysfunction brought enormous improvement to my quality of life. The pain was a 5 or 6, which is worse than my baseline pain level. It felt more like a headache than a migraine attack, though the pain was far more migraine-like than usual. It was centered around my left eye and temple (instead of an all-over throbbing pain). A couple ibuprofen took the edge off when the pain began to interfere with my ability to function.

Week 2

The migraine pain from the previous week was lower, but still present. I was fully functional with little fatigue or cognitive dysfunction, so I had no complaints. I celebrated by emptying the shed and reorganizing the entire house.

Week 3

I was still doing better than before I started using the Spring TMS, but my fatigue increased as the week wore on. Then I started getting slow-build migraine attacks (that’s my term, nothing technical, but I’m pretty sure the meaning is obvious). They seemed totally random, with no identifiable triggers. Then food that’s normally OK started being a trigger. Then the act of eating itself became a trigger (even with DAO). All the while, the fatigue kept increasing.

In this week, I noticed that I’d use the device and the migraine attack would let up, but return a few hours later. The length of this reprieve reduced steadily until I’d feel worse immediately upon using the Spring TMS. It’s like the device caused an instant rebound headache.

After spending two days laid up with moderate pain and major fatigue and cognitive dysfunction, I decided to stop the treatment.

Week 4

After I stopped using the Spring TMS, the fatigue slowly decreased as the week progressed, though some cognitive dysfunction remained. I wasn’t worried. It took a week to get over the initial side effects, so I figured it would take a week to return to baseline. I still thought I’d be able to use the device again when things settled down.

When a migraine attack struck an hour before an appointment and wasn’t responding to triptans. I gave the Spring TMS a try. I felt worse instantly and spend the rest of the day in bed.

Week 5

I was still spending more time laid up than before I started using the Spring TMS. I tried to keep the worry at bay, but the thoughts keep creeping up: “What if this is my new normal? What if I never go back to how well I was doing before I started the treatment?”

I kept reminding myself of an escapade with dizziness last February. My doctor said that a four-day migraine attack temporarily changed my brain, which made me more sensitive to the side effects of bupropion (Wellbutrin, a drug that has always made me dizzy unless I’m very careful with it). My brain didn’t normalize after that for two weeks. I used the Spring TMS for three weeks and my brain clearly reacted to it. I told myself that maybe it would take three weeks for my brain to settle down. Or three months. Either way, I told myself that there was no reason to think I’d feel this way forever.

Beyond

It has been many months since I stopped using the Spring TMS. Eating and drinking anything but water continues to be a migraine trigger. My overall pain levels returned to baseline, but I spend more time at higher levels of pain than before I tried the device. My fatigue and cognitive dysfunction did not improve beyond the fifth week (though the ketogenic diet has improved my cognitive dysfunction.)

I suspect it’s a coincidence that I became more reactive to food (and eating) while using the device, though determining cause and effect is impossible. My doctor said he’s had patients become worse while using the device, but I’m the only one who has had a permanent change. A friend also tried it and got worse, but she returned to baseline within a week of stopping it.

Parting Wisdom

Perhaps surprisingly, I would still encourage people to try the Spring TMS. Just be aware that your migraine attacks could worsen. Before you try it, talk with your doctor about that possibility and find out what they recommend—tough it out and hope the attacks will improve or stop altogether? Based on my discussion with my doctor, I would do the latter, but only you and your doctor can determine the right approach for you.

18 Responses to Spring TMS: A Patient’s Experience

  1. Nonnie Willing says:

    I tried the Spting TMS during the clinical trial. I was so excited to finally get to try it out as I too waited patiently for this device to come out.
    My Dr explained how to use it, plus I got printed instructions. The nurse showed me how and what to track for the clinical trial. I was on cloud nine because I knew this was going to at least help some.
    The bottom fell out of my hope for this to be true when I used the device for the first time. I situated just right to the back of my head, pushed the button and almost immediately got dizzy. This continued on to an 8-9 migraine and I had to go to the ED for an agonizing headache.
    I kept the machine on my dining room table for about a week but never used it again. I sent it back because that was it for me and the Spring TMS. I was very disappointed but it made me so sick that I knew that would never be the treatment for me. Another treatment to chalk up to failure. Darn it…

    • I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with it, Nonnie. It’s so frustrating—and sometimes devastating—when a treatment that shows such promise doesn’t work. Thanks for sharing yoru story.

      Take care,
      Kerrie

      • Karen C says:

        I’m sorry to report that this device was a big disappointment for me. I suffer from migraine with aura which has plagued me for 40+ years. I followed the nurses’ instructions & never missed a day. I was using it for prophylaxis as well as acute treatment. Instead of helping I had many more migraines! Many more severe than usual. Since it wasn’t helping & causing more I stopped. I’m now disappointed that I’ve spent a lot of money with no refund or success. Back to Botox and whatever has some success.

        • I’m sorry to hear that, Karen. Unfortunately, I’ve heard many similar stories. It seems to be one where the people who get relief really benefit, but they aren’t the majority. Best wishes on finding an effective treatment.

          Take care,
          Kerrie

  2. Tina Aston says:

    I have been using the Spring TMS since March 2015. It has been a life changing treatment for me I have reduced my migraines from 22 a month to just 5 on average. It worked with an increasing reduction over the first 12 weeks for me, the only side effect I have is the occasional numb finger!! However I have come to understand for me it is a prevention treatment so if I have an attack I need to use a triptan to deal with it but the migraines are not as strong as they where before the Spring TMS. I would say for me it is the most wonderful device in the world it has allowed me to have my life back.

  3. A few years ago I was loaned a TMS device from my headache specialist and I also got dramatically worse from its use and needed to go to the ER as a direct result. It was so immediate and dramatic that I knew it had to be the machine. Probably the most frustrating thing about migraine for me is that a treatment that is a miracle for some can be a disaster for others!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Elizabeth. A friend had a similar experience. I agree that having something that works great for one person and makes another feel worse is incredibly frustrating. Interestingly, it’s given me more hope for trying treatments. When everything feels like a crapshoot, I know I could always be pleasantly surprised.

      Take care,
      Kerrie

  4. Nicky Mcdermid says:

    Hi Kerri. Thank you for so much information. As foolish as I feel for asking…what is Spring TMS?
    I tried to find out but cannot. Perhaps it’s my limited cognitive ( with MS for 18+ ) that I have been forced to notice.
    Thanks again,
    Nicky

  5. Becky says:

    Nicky, click on the spring TMS link in the first sentence.

  6. MZ says:

    When I googled Spring TMS I also got the Fischer Wallace Stimulater, which looks slitghtly different than the photo Kerrie shows. This is approved in Canada. Does anyone know the difference? Has anyone tried it? I have tried the Cefaly which came out years ago and was no help to me.

    • MZ, the Fischer Wallace stimulator has been advertising a lot lately. Digging through their website and PubMed, it appears the difference between Spring TMS, Cefaly, and the Fischer Wallace stimulator is that the first two have research to support their efficacy for migraine while the last one does not. I found one old study mentioning the technology, but that was it. Maybe I’m missing something, but I looked pretty hard and can’t find research to support their claims.

      Take care,
      Kerrie

  7. Maureen says:

    These posts are older so this will not likely be picked up. But has anyone had a good result? There were studies with varying results of 40% positive response to 60% positive response in respected journal articles.Same studies also said “no substantial negative results noted”. However, as in all studies, not all who began the study finished it and some of the people happy to participate expecting some relief but ending up in the ER are likely among the dropouts. Unfortunately that data is not reported. I got the device at the beginning of a headache and the headache has lasted at least 24 hours longer than my usual migraines so far. I am a chronic and trying to back some space between my migraine exascerbations so it is a setback. I guess this is a fundamental problem with research publications by medical device and drug companies

  8. Becky says:

    Sorry I can’t help Maureen. I’ve never have it.

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