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Anesthesiology and Pain Management - Biochemistry - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Physiology

No Effect of a Single Session of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Experimentally Induced Pain in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain – An Exploratory Study
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Author: Kerstin Luedtke et al.

by Kerstin Luedtke, Arne May, Tim P. Jürgens

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to modulate cortical excitability. A small number of studies suggested that tDCS modulates the response to experimental pain paradigms. No trials have been conducted to evaluate the response of patients already suffering from pain, to an additional experimental pain before and after tDCS. The present study investigated the effect of a single session of anodal, cathodal and sham stimulation (15 mins/1 mA) over the primary motor cortex on the perceived intensity of repeated noxious thermal and electrical stimuli and on elements of quantitative sensory testing (thermal pain and perception thresholds) applied to the right hand in 15 patients with chronic low back pain. The study was conducted in a double-blind sham-controlled and cross-over design. No significant alterations of pain ratings were found. Modalities of quantitative sensory testing remained equally unchanged. It is therefore hypothesized that a single 15 mins session of tDCS at 1 mA may not be sufficient to alter the perception of experimental pain and in patients with chronic pain. Further studies applying repetitive tDCS to patients with chronic pain are required to fully answer the question whether experimental pain perception may be influenced by tDCS over the motor cortex.