We have considered previously the efficacy of an interesting treatment known as Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) as a treatment for chronic pain.
The procedure, which is a fairly established one for a variety of conditions including depression, uses magnetism to stimulate targeted areas of the brain. The device applies a brief magnetic pulse or train of pulses to the scalp using a coil of wire connected to a pulse generator. When the magnetic field of the pulse alternates rapidly enough, a secondary electric current is created. This second electric current alters the local electric field near the targeted cells in the brain, which are thereby stimulated.
The Brazilian study
In 2010, a study in Sao Paulo, Brazil, specifically examining the effectiveness of rTMS as a therapy for CRPS, concluded:
“This study shows an efficacy of repetitive sessions of high-frequency rTMS as an add-on therapy to refractory CRPS type I patients. It had a positive effect in different aspects of pain (sensory-discriminative and emotional-affective). It opens the perspective for the clinical use of this technique.”
Now, researchers at Stanford University are seeking volunteers for a study to assess whether rTMS is effective at reducing levels of pain in people specifically suffering CRPS. They say “there is evidence to suggest that TMS can effectively treat certain types of pain and mood disorders…The duration of the study lasts up to 20 weeks and involves four in-person visits to the Stanford Pain Management Center in Redwood City, California.”
We understand that there is no cost involved and there will be some financial recompense paid for participants’ time.
The study is a randomised one with an equal split of participants between those receiving the treatment and those treated with a placebo. However, those receiving the placebo will be offered the opportunity to undergo the treatment once the study has concluded.
To be considered, applicants must be suffering either CRPS I or II in an upper or lower limb and be between the ages of 18 and 70.