Efficacy of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the treatment of fibromyalgia: results of a randomized, sham-controlled longitudinal clinical trial

J Pain Manag. 2009;2(3):353-361.


Fibromyalgia has been recognized as a central pain disorder with evidence of neuroanatomic and neurophysiologic alterations. Previous studies with techniques of noninvasive brain stimulation--transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)--have shown that these methods are associated with a significant alleviation of fibromyalgia-associated pain and sleep dysfunction. Here we sought to determine whether a longer treatment protocol involving 10 sessions of 2 mA, 20 min tDCS of the left primary motor (M1) or dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) could offer additional, more long-lasting clinical benefits in the management of pain from fibromyalgia. METHODS: Forty-one women with chronic, medically refractory fibromyalgia were randomized to receive 10 daily sessions of M1, DLPFC, or sham tDCS. RESULTS: Our results show that M1 and DLPFC stimulation both display improvements in pain scores (VAS) and quality of life (FIQ) at the end of the treatment protocol, but only M1 stimulation resulted in long-lasting clinical benefits as assessed at 30 and 60 days after the end of treatment. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the importance of the duration of the treatment period, suggesting that 10 daily sessions of tDCS result in more long lasting outcomes than only five sessions. Furthermore, this study supports the findings of a similarly designed rTMS trial as both induce pain reductions that are equally long-lasting.