Transcranial stimulation to treat low back painJanuary 14, 2019
Sangtae Ahn et al reported that targeting a specific part of the brain with a weak alternating current of electricity significantly decreased chronic lower back pain (CLBP) in all participants of a small clinical trial. This treatment, known as Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS), was used in a group of 20 patients based on the hypothesis that naturally occurring alpha oscillations associated with the thalamo-cortical activity pattern in the human brain are impaired in chronic pain and can be modulated. All patients were suffering from CLBP and were subjected to tACS and sham stimulation in different sessions. In one session the researchers targeted the somatosensory region using tACS to enhance the naturally occurring alpha-waves. The other session provided a weak untargeted electrical current for a placebo effect. The patients could not differentiate both the sessions. The findings revealed significantly enhanced alpha oscillations in the somatosensory regionon stimulation withalpha-tACS compared to placebo stimulation. The results, as recorded with EEG, were correlated with pain relief, giving successful target identification. Researchers plan on conducting a larger study to discover the effects of multiple tACS sessions, suggesting that it may provide a non-invasive therapeutic benefit for other brain associated disorders as well.
The Journal of Pain DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2018.09.004