for people ages 18-65 (full criteria)
at San Diego, California and other locations
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Albert Leung, M.D.
Headshot of Albert Leung
Albert Leung



This study aims to look at the long term efficacy of using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in relieving Gulf War Illness related headaches and pain.


Headaches (HA), muscle and joint pain, are some of the most common debilitating symptoms in military personnel served in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War (GW1). Migraine like HA and diffuse body pain were detected in 64% of Gulf War Veteran (GWV) diagnosed with Gulf War Illness (GWI). Unfortunately, conventional pharmacological treatments for GWI-related pain has not been shown to be effective and drugs such as narcotics contain many long term untoward psychosomatic and abusive side effects. This study is assessing the effectiveness of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), non-invasive treatment option, in alleviating headaches, muscle, and joint pain symptoms of GWI.


Gulf War Syndrome, Gulf War Illness, Headache, Muscle Pain, Joint Pain, rTMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Arthralgia, Myalgia, Pain, Persian Gulf Syndrome


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-65

  • Male or female under 65 years of age who served in the military for at least 30 consecutive days between August 1, 1990, and July 31, 1991 in the Persian Gulf War region
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC) Criteria for Gulf War Illness (GWI)
  • Kansas Criteria for GWI
  • International Headache Society Criteria for Migraine Headache without aura Average Headache Exacerbation Intensity >3 on 0-10 a Numerical Pain Rating scale (NPS)
  • Average Overall Daily Muscle Pain Intensity >3 on 0-10 a NPS
  • Average Overall Daily Extremities Joint Pain Intensity >3 on 0-10 a NPS
  • Headache Exacerbation/attack 3 times per week with the average intensity >3 on a 0-10 NPS, lasting > 4 hours in the past three months
  • Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression (HRSD) <14 based on the sum of scores for the first 17 items

You CAN'T join if...

  • Pregnancy
  • History of pacemaker implant
  • Any ferromagnetic (e.g. bullet fragment, shrapnel, device implant) in the brain or body that will prohibit the patients from having a brain MRI
  • History of dementia, major psychiatric diseases, or life-threatening diseases
  • Presence of any other chronic neuropathic pain states such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
  • History of seizure
  • Pending litigation
  • Low back pain with mechanical origins such as lumbar radiculopathy or radiculitis or lumbar facet arthropathy
  • Lack of ability to understand the experimental protocol and to adequately communicate in English
  • History of Traumatic Brain injury
  • Chronic Tension or Cluster Headache
  • Ongoing Cognitive Rehabilitation or Treatment of PTSD


  • VA San Diego Healthcare System accepting new patients
    San Diego California 92161 United States
  • VA Palo Alto accepting new patients
    Palo Alto California 94304 United States
  • VA Atlanta accepting new patients
    Decatur Georgia 30033 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSD

  • Albert Leung, M.D.
    Clinical Professor, Anesthesiology, Vc-health Sciences-schools. Authored (or co-authored) 35 research publications. Research interests: Neuromodulation · Non-invasive Neuromodulation · Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation · Transcutaneous Magnetic Stimulation · Post-traumatic Brain Injury Headache · Non-pharmacological Treatment for Headaches · Neuropathic Pain · Trigeminal Neuralgia


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
Veterans Medical Research Foundation
Study Type
Expecting 150 study participants
Last Updated