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Eur J Pain. 2012 Apr;16(4):509-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.08.006.

Electrical low-frequency stimulation induces central neuroplastic changes of pain processing in man.

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Medical Physiology and Experimental Pharmacology Group, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction SMI, Department of Health Science and Technology, Medical Faculty, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.


Electrical low-frequency stimulation (LFS) inhibits pain perception and nociceptive processing as shown by psychophysical and electrophysiological means (long-term depression, LTD). Information regarding central mechanisms involved in LTD induction and maintenance are still missing. This study hypothesizes that electrical LFS induces changes in activation pattern of pain-related brain areas. Thirty-two electrophysiological and psychophysical experiments were performed in 16 healthy volunteers. Painful electrical test stimulation (0.125 Hz, 60 pulses) and conditioning LFS (1 Hz, 1200 pulses) were applied by a concentric electrode to the right hand. Test stimulation series were performed before (Pre) and after LFS (Post) or no stimulation period (Control). Volunteers rated pain perception according to a verbal rating scale (0-100). Somatosensory evoked cortical potentials were recorded with 64-channel electroencephalography. Individual dipole source modeling using CURRY software (Compumedics, Hamburg, Germany) yielded information about dipole location and strength. The strongest decrease in LFS-induced pain perception was shown after LFS (p < 0.01). Topographic distribution of cortical potentials revealed reproducible negative (N1, N2) and positive (P2) components. Dipole magnitude analysis showed a significant difference between Post LFS and Post Control for P2 (p < 0.01). P2 dipole location analysis yielded a significant posterior (p < 0.05) shift following LTD induction. Thus, data reveal central changes of pain processing after LTD induction. These experiments may help judging the potency of LTD as model for electrostimulation in future analgesic therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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