Still, Saper said, the findings hold promise.
"The research is promising, and if [this technique] comes to continued success in further studies, then it will help some people who don't benefit from other therapies or can't benefit from other therapies, and maybe even expand into other areas where these treatments may be helpful," he said.
The treatment may be welcomed especially by the significant subset of migraine patients who either do not respond to traditional prescription medications or experience negative side effects from the drugs. For these patients, complementary and alternative medicine experts have been studying the use of magnets for the purpose of pain relief for years.
For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1982 found that electromagnets can be used to speed the healing of bone fractures.
Another study published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences in 2000 found that the stimulation device has an effect on the central nervous system that might relieve chronic pain.
Woodson Merrell, M.D., chairman of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, said that the use of the stimulation device and other therapies involving magnets will allow many migraine patients to avoid prescription medication and the side effects associated with these drugs.
"I think the TMS device definitely will and should join the treatment arsenal for migraines, and probably many other problems such as superficial sprains or fractures," Merrell said.
"What's to lose with this treatment? It's not like you're giving patients some biological agent that could have sweeping biological effects and could interfere with other medications a patient is taking, or simply bring on negative side effects," Merrell added. "A therapy using magnets is inexpensive and virtually free of side effects."