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Papers: 20 Jan 2024 - 26 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 09

Brain Sci




Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Orthopedic Pain: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.


Adams W, Idnani S, Kim J


(1) Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) appears to alleviate chronic pain via a brain-down mechanism. Although several review studies have examined the effects of tDCS on patients with chronic pain, no systematic review or meta-analysis has comprehensively analyzed the effects of tDCS on chronic orthopedic joint pain in one study. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of tDCS for pain reduction in chronic orthopedic patients; (2) Methods: A comprehensive search of five electronic databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, and Cochrane) was performed. Only randomized controlled trials that compared tDCS with a control intervention were included. Eighteen studies met our inclusion criteria. We identified four categories of chronic orthopedic pain: knee (k = 8), lower back (k = 7), shoulder (k = 2), and orofacial pain (k = 1). Random effect models were utilized, and a sensitivity analysis was conducted in the presence of significant heterogeneity. Studies within each pain condition were further classified according to the number of treatment sessions: 1-5 sessions, 6-10 sessions, and >10 sessions.; (3) Results: Significant reductions in chronic orthopedic joint pain were observed following tDCS compared to controls for knee ( = 0.59, = 0.005), lower back ( = 1.14, = 0.005), and shoulder ( = 1.17, = 0.020). Subgroup analyses showed pain reductions after 6-10 tDCS sessions for knee pain and after 1-5 and >10 sessions for lower back pain; (4) Conclusions: tDCS could be considered a potential stand-alone or supplemental therapy for chronic knee and lower back pain. The effectiveness of tDCS treatment varies depending on the number of treatment sessions. Our findings suggest the importance of implementing individualized treatment plans when considering tDCS for chronic pain conditions.