Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Brain stim fizzle

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

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! Bummer. (Null hypothesis primer: in plain English, the null hypothesis says, “Most ideas turn out to be wrong.” And therefore most weakly positive results will turn out to the product of bias and wishful thinking. Read more about the null.)