Purpose: Pain and cognitive impairment are frequent symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Neglecting experimental pain and paying attention to demanding tasks is reported to decrease the pain intensity. Little is known about the interaction between chronic neuropathic pain and attention disorders in MS. Recently, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was used to modulate various cognitive and motor symptoms in MS. We aimed to study the effects of transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS), a form of transcranial electric stimulation, over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on attention and neuropathic pain in MS patients.
Methods: 16 MS patients were included in a randomized, sham-controlled, cross-over study. Each patient randomly received two tRNS blocks, separated by three weeks of washout interval. Each block consisted of three consecutive daily sessions of either active or sham tRNS. The patients were evaluated for pain, attention and mood and further underwent an electrophysiological evaluation.
Results: Compared to sham, tRNS showed a trend to decrease the N2-P2 amplitudes of pain related evoked potentials and improve pain ratings. Attention performance and mood scales did not change after stimulations.
Conclusions: This study suggests the role of tRNS in pain modulation, which could have been more evident with longer stimulation protocols.
Keywords: Transcranial random noise stimulation; attention; depression; fatigue; multiple sclerosis; pain; tRNS.