Modulating Neuropathic Pain with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Grants and Contracts Details


Pain impacts millions of people, affecting their physical and emotional functioning and quality of life. Pain is frequently accompanied by comorbid conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders. Patients with persistent pain are more likely to have unfavorable health perceptions compared with patients not experiencing pain. Neuropathic pain is associated with functional reorganization and hyper-excitability of the somatosensory and motor cortex. This suggests that modulation of cortical excitability using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could provide a novel approach for treating patients with neuropathic pain. In a small group of patients (n=9), our group demonstrated the feasibility to apply tDCS on chronic neuropathic pain. We found improvements on the physical component of SF-36 Health Survey and Visual Analog Scale (VAS) with stimulation over the primary motor cortex (M1). Additionally, small improvements on the mental component of SF-36 occurred with stimulation dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) compared to stimulation of the primary motor cortex. The goal of this proposal is to expand on our feasibility study and collect strong data to support application for a large federal funding such as National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. We plan to enroll 12 additional patients with chronic neuropathic pain who will be randomly assigned to 1 of the following 3 groups: 1) anodal tDCS over DLPFC, 2) anodal tDCS over M1 and, 3) sham tDCS. The success of tDCS to decrease pain in patients having chronic neuropathic pain has great potential to have a meaningful impact on pain reduction, including reduced intake of oral pain medications, and improved quality of life and related outcomes. From a societal standpoint, the over-reliance on opioids for pain reduction has led to the opioid crisis, which has had great societal costs not only in the United States, but globally.
Effective start/end date1/1/217/2/21


  • Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: $25,000.00


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