Efficacy of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Treating Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Systematic Review
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Pain Practice © 2012 World Institute of Pain
Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 131–145, February 2013
How to Cite
Marlow, N. M., Bonilha, H. S. and Short, E. B. (2013), Efficacy of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Treating Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Systematic Review. Pain Practice, 13: 131–145. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2012.00562.x
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012
- Submitted: December 28, 2011; Revision accepted: March 29, 2012
- transcranial direct current stimulation;
- transcranial magnetic stimulation;
- clinical trials;
- systematic review
Objective: To systematically review the literature to date applying repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
Method: Electronic bibliography databases screened included PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library. The keyword “fibromyalgia” was combined with (“transcranial” and “stimulation”) or “TMS” or “tDCS” or “transcranial magnetic stimulation” or “transcranial direct current stimulation”.
Results: Nine of 23 studies were included; brain stimulation sites comprised either the primary motor cortex (M1) or the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Five studies used rTMS (high-frequency-M1: 2, low-frequency-DLPFC: 2, high-frequency-DLPFC: 1), while 4 applied tDCS (anodal-M1: 1, anodal-M1/DLPFC: 3). Eight were double-blinded, randomized controlled trials. Most (80%) rTMS studies that measured pain reported significant decreases, while all (100%) tDCS studies with pain measures reported significant decreases. Greater longevity of significant pain reductions was observed for excitatory M1 rTMS/tDCS.
Conclusion: Studies involving excitatory rTMS/tDCS at M1 showed analogous pain reductions as well as considerably fewer side effects compared to FDA apaproved FMS pharmaceuticals. The most commonly reported side effects were mild, including transient headaches and scalp discomforts at the stimulation site. Yearly use of rTMS/tDCS regimens appears costly ($11,740 to 14,507/year); however, analyses to apapropriately weigh these costs against clinical and quality of life benefits for patients with FMS are lacking. Consequently, rTMS/tDCS should be considered when treating patients with FMS, particularly those who are unable to find adequate symptom relief with other therapies. Further work into optimal stimulation parameters and standardized outcome measures is needed to clarify associated efficacy and effectiveness.