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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2006 Jul-Aug;43(4):461-74.

Using cranial electrotherapy stimulation to treat pain associated with spinal cord injury.

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Pain Section, Anesthesiology (145), Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Treatments for chronic pain in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been less than effective. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), a noninvasive technique that delivers a microcurrent to the brain via ear clip electrodes, has been shown to effectively treat several neurological and psychiatric disorders. The present study examined the effects of daily 1-hour active CES or sham CES treatment (randomly assigned) for 21 days on pain intensity and interference with activities in 38 males with SCI. The active CES group (n = 18) reported significantly decreased daily pain intensity compared with the sham CES group (n = 20) (mean change: active CES = -0.73, sham CES = -0.08; p = 0.03). Additionally, the active CES group reported significantly decreased pain interference (-14.6 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.004) in contrast to the nonsignificant decrease in the sham CES group (-4.7 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.24). These results suggest that CES can effectively treat chronic pain in persons with SCI.

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