A study protocol for a single-blind, randomized controlled trial of adjunctive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for chronic pain among patients receiving specialized, inpatient multimodal pain management

G. Janice Jimenez-Torres, Benjamin L. Weinstein, Cory R. Walker, James Chris Fowler, Philippa Ashford, Jeffrey J. Borckardt, Alok Madan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Available treatments for chronic pain (CP) are modestly effective or associated with iatrogenic harm. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that may be an effective, adjunctive treatment to non-opioid therapies. In this randomized control trial (RCT), we compare adjunctive active versus sham tDCS among patients in a multimodal inpatient pain management program. The primary objectives of the RCT are to improve pain tolerance and subjective pain experience. Methods and design Patients admitted to the Pain Management Program at The Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas are eligible for this trial. Eighty-four participants will be randomized (1:1) into a single-blind, 2 × 12 (group × time) controlled trial. A battery-powered direct and constant current stimulator (Soterix Medical Inc. 2014) delivers anodal stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and cathodal stimulation over the right DLPFC. Active tDCS is applied by supplying a 2 mA current for 20 min/session over 10 sessions. Participants complete self-report and performance-based assessments on a weekly basis just prior to brain stimulation. Self-report assessments are collected via Chronic Pain Tracker version 3.6, an iPad interfaced application. The performance-based pain tolerance task is completed through the cold presser task. Discussion Interventions with cross-symptomatic therapeutic potential are absolutely essential in the context of CP, in which psychiatric comorbidity is the norm. Modalities that can be used in tandem with evidence-based, non-opioid therapies have the potential to have a synergistic effect, resulting in increased effectiveness of what have been modestly effective treatments to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Volume54
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Pain management
  • Serious mental illness
  • Somatic symptoms
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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