Using cranial electrotherapy stimulation to treat pain associated with spinal cord injury

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2006 Jul-Aug;43(4):461-74. doi: 10.1682/jrrd.2005.04.0066.


Treatments for chronic pain in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been less than effective. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), a noninvasive technique that delivers a microcurrent to the brain via ear clip electrodes, has been shown to effectively treat several neurological and psychiatric disorders. The present study examined the effects of daily 1-hour active CES or sham CES treatment (randomly assigned) for 21 days on pain intensity and interference with activities in 38 males with SCI. The active CES group (n = 18) reported significantly decreased daily pain intensity compared with the sham CES group (n = 20) (mean change: active CES = -0.73, sham CES = -0.08; p = 0.03). Additionally, the active CES group reported significantly decreased pain interference (-14.6 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.004) in contrast to the nonsignificant decrease in the sham CES group (-4.7 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.24). These results suggest that CES can effectively treat chronic pain in persons with SCI.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*