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Schmerz. 2010 Apr;24(2):161-6. doi: 10.1007/s00482-010-0899-x.

[Transcranial magnetic and direct current stimulation in the therapy of pain].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Abteilung Klinische Neurophysiologie, Georg-August Universität, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Deutschland. AAntal@gurdg.de


Neuroplasticity is the ability of the central nervous system to induce functional and microstructural changes in order to adapt to a new environment. However, so-called maladaptive neuroplasticity can also bring disadvantages, such as reduced inhibition of input signals, one of the suspected causes of chronic pain. With the method of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) a technique has been developed that makes it possible to study cortical excitability changes in the human brain non-invasively over a long time. Electrophysiological studies have shown that the application of rTMS over the primary motor cortex induces a facilitatory or inhibitory effect on the corticospinal and cortico-cortical excitability depending on the protocol used. The results of the clinical studies published suggest that rTMS can inhibit pain perception with regard to chronic pain and in experimentally induced pain conditions. An alternative method to induce neuroplastic changes is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). tDCS acts primarily on the membrane potential, by hyper- or depolarizing it. The induced after-effects are NMDA receptor dependent. The effectiveness of tDCS is currently being explored in migraine research as well as experimentally induced and chronic pain conditions. In phase II trials its efficacy has been demonstrated. Ongoing studies are focusing on management of the placebo effect; however, it is easier to control this effect in tDCS compared to rTMS. Phase III trials are currently in preparation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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