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J Pain. 2010 May;11(5):436-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.08.011. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Effects of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on chronic neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


Neuropathic pain in patients with MS is frequent and is associated with a great interference with daily life activities. In the present study, we investigated whether anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may be effective in reducing central chronic pain in MS patients. Patients received sham tDCS or real tDCS in a 5-day period of treatment in a randomized, double blind, sham-controlled study. Pain was measured using visual analog scale (VAS) for pain and the short form McGill questionnaire (SF-MPQ). Quality of life was measured using the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54 scale (MSQoL-54). Depressive symptoms and anxiety were also evaluated as confounding factors using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and VAS for anxiety. Evaluations were performed at baseline, immediately after the end of treatment, and once a week during a 3-week follow-up period. Following anodal but not sham tDCS over the motor cortex, there was a significant pain improvement as assessed by VAS for pain and McGill questionnaire, and of overall quality of life. No depression or anxiety changes were observed. Our results show that anodal tDCS is able to reduce pain-scale scores in MS patients with central chronic pain and that this effect outlasts the period of stimulation, leading to long-lasting clinical effects.


This article presents a new, noninvasive therapeutic approach to chronic, central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, poorly responsive to current conventional medications. tDCS is known to cause long-lasting changes of neuronal excitability at the site of stimulation and in the connected areas in healthy subjects. This led us to hypothesize that pain decrease may be the result of functional plastic changes in brain structures involved in the pathogenesis of chronic neuropathic pain.

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