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Papers: 22 Jun 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 13



A 5-day course of rTMS before pain onset ameliorates future pain and increases sensorimotor peak alpha frequency.


Chowdhury NS, Taseen K, Chiang A, Chang WJ, Millard SK, Seminowicz DA, Schabrun SM


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has shown promise as an intervention for pain. An unexplored research question is whether the delivery of rTMS might protect against a future episode of prolonged pain. The present study aimed to determine i) whether 5 consecutive days of rTMS delivered prior to experimentally-induced prolonged jaw pain could reduce future pain intensity and ii) whether any effects of rTMS on pain were mediated by changes in corticomotor excitability (CME) and/or sensorimotor peak alpha frequency (PAF). On each day from Day 0-4, forty healthy individuals received a single session of active (n = 21) or sham (n = 19) rTMS over the left primary motor cortex. PAF and CME were assessed on Day 0 (before rTMS) and Day 4 (after rTMS). Prolonged pain was induced via intramuscular injection of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the right masseter muscle after the final rTMS session. From Days 5-25, participants completed twice-daily electronic dairies including pain on chewing and yawning (primary outcomes), as well as pain during other activities (e.g. talking), functional limitation in jaw function and muscle soreness (secondary outcomes). Compared to sham, individuals who received active rTMS subsequently experienced lower pain on chewing and yawning. Although active rTMS increased PAF, the effects of rTMS on pain were not mediated by changes in PAF or CME. This study is the first to show that rTMS delivered to pain onset can protect against future pain and associated functional impairment. Thus, rTMS may hold promise as a prophylactic intervention for persistent pain.