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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Luedtke 2015.

Effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation preceding cognitive behavioural management for chronic low back pain: sham controlled double blinded randomised controlled trial

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Tags: treatment, bad news, chronic pain, devices, pain problems

PainSci summary of Luedtke 2015?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that delivers low intensity direct current stimulation to the brain through electrodes applied to the skin over the target area. It has been found to modulate cortical excitability at the target site leading some researchers to investigate it as a possible treatment for chronic pain.

Unfortunately, the authors of a new British Medical Journal editorial conclude that it is:

Not recommended; early promise is fading fast as trial methods improve.

The null hypothesis strikes again! As it does. Bummer. (Null hypothesis primer: in plain English, the null hypothesis is that “Most ideas turn out to be wrong.” And therefore most weakly positive results will turn out to the product of bias and wishful thinking.)

original abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation alone and in combination with cognitive behavioural management in patients with non-specific chronic low back pain.

DESIGN: Double blind parallel group randomised controlled trial with six months' follow-up conducted May 2011-March 2013. Participants, physiotherapists, assessors, and analyses were blinded to group allocation.

SETTING: Interdisciplinary chronic pain centre.

PARTICIPANTS: 135 participants with non-specific chronic low back pain>12 weeks were recruited from 225 patients assessed for eligibility.

INTERVENTION: Participants were randomised to receive anodal (20 minutes to motor cortex at 2 mA) or sham transcranial direct current stimulation (identical electrode position, stimulator switched off after 30 seconds) for five consecutive days immediately before cognitive behavioural management (four week multidisciplinary programme of 80 hours).

MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Two primary outcome measures of pain intensity (0-100 visual analogue scale) and disability (Oswestry disability index) were evaluated at two primary endpoints after stimulation and after cognitive behavioural management.

RESULTS: Analyses of covariance with baseline values (pain or disability) as covariates showed that transcranial direct current stimulation was ineffective for the reduction of pain (difference between groups on visual analogue scale 1 mm (99% confidence interval -8.69 mm to 6.3 mm; P=0.68)) and disability (difference between groups 1 point (-1.73 to 1.98; P=0.86)) and did not influence the outcome of cognitive behavioural management (difference between group 3 mm (-10.32 mm to 6.73 mm); P=0.58; difference between groups on Oswestry disability index 0 point (-2.45 to 2.62); P=0.92). The stimulation was well tolerated with minimal transitory side effects.

CONCLUSIONS: This results of this trial on the effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation for the reduction of pain and disability do not support its clinical use for managing non-specific chronic low back pain.

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: