Effects of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Multicomponent Therapy in Patients With Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2021 Mar;73(3):449-458. doi: 10.1002/acr.24118.


Objective: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic painful condition partly due to alterations in pain modulation by the central nervous system. Multicomponent therapy (MT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have both been reported as pain modulators in patients with FM. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of rTMS on pain with a combination of MT and rTMS versus MT alone.

Methods: Thirty-nine FM patients with visual analog scale (VAS) results for pain of ≥40 mm were randomized to active or sham rTMS (high-frequency, primary motor cortex M1) plus 12 weeks of MT (3 sessions per week combining aerobic training, pool-based exercises, and relaxation). Repetitive TMS was started 2 weeks prior to MT and maintained until the end of the program (week 14). Assessments were achieved at baseline, at week 14, and at 6 months (week 40) after completion of the program. The main criterion was pain reduction, as assessed by the weekly mean self-reported level of pain (reported daily). Secondary outcomes were cardiorespiratory fitness (graded maximal exercise test), cardiac autonomic adaptations, and FM impact (using scales for FM impact, depression, sleep efficiency, and pain catastrophizing).

Results: The reduction of the weekly mean of pain reported daily did not differ significantly between groups (using repeated measures of analysis of variance [ANOVA]). Two-way ANOVAs showed that pain VAS results, as well as cardiorespiratory fitness, quality of life, depression, and catastrophizing, improved significantly at week 14 and remained stable until week 40. Neither cardiac autonomic adaptations nor sleep efficiency changed significantly.

Conclusion: Repetitive TMS did not reduce pain in patients with FM who followed the MT program.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01308801.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01308801