Transcranial Electrical Stimulation Lessens Pain

Produces frequency-dependent antihyperalgesic and analgesic effects in humans

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Low-level electrical stimulation of the brain, a simple and painless procedure, produces significant pain-reducing effects and may eventually provide a non-pharmacologic approach to pain management, according to research published in the November issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Vladimir Nekhendzy, M.D., of the Stanford University Medical Center in California, and colleagues conducted a study of 20 healthy male subjects to evaluate the analgesic and antihyperalgesic effects of transcranial electrostimulation (TES) at 60 and 100 Hz. The pain-relieving effects were evaluated by testing sensory responses to heat and mechanical force applied to a small area of induced sunburned skin and to undamaged skin.

In the sunburned area, the researchers found that application of TES brought about a rapid and significant antihyperalgesic effect for thermal- and mechanically-induced pain. In unimpaired skin, TES lessened thermal pain. TES at the 60 Hz dose was effective, but the TES-100 Hz dose had little if any pain-relieving effect. The study did not demonstrate any long-lasting antihyperalgesic or analgesic effects of one TES treatment.

"The future of this technique will rest on the confirmation studies directly elucidating the mechanism(s) of TES-60 Hz action, exploring its effects in experimental human pain models of secondary hyperalgesia and allodynia, and demonstrating the presence of the analgesic and antihyperalgesic aftereffects of prolonged or repetitive TES application," the authors write.

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