We evaluated the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the treatment of phantom limb pain (PLP) in land mine victims. Fifty-four patients with PLP were enrolled in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel group single-center trial. The intervention consisted of real or sham rTMS of M1 contralateral to the amputated leg. rTMS was given in series of 20 trains of 6-second duration (54-second intertrain, intensity 90% of motor threshold) at a stimulation rate of 10 Hz (1,200 pulses), 20 minutes per day, during 10 days. For the control group, a sham coil was used. The administration of active rTMS induced a significantly greater reduction in pain intensity (visual analogue scale scores) 15 days after treatment compared with sham stimulation (-53.38 ± 53.12% vs -22.93 ± 57.16%; mean between-group difference = 30.44%, 95% confidence interval, .30-60.58; P = .03). This effect was not significant 30 days after treatment. In addition, 19 subjects (70.3%) attained a clinically significant pain reduction (>30%) in the active group compared with 11 in the sham group (40.7%) 15 days after treatment (P = .03). The administration of 10 Hz rTMS on the contralateral primary motor cortex for 2 weeks in traumatic amputees with PLP induced significant clinical improvement in pain.
Perspective: High-frequency rTMS on the contralateral primary motor cortex of traumatic amputees induced a clinically significant pain reduction up to 15 days after treatment without any major secondary effect. These results indicate that rTMS is a safe and effective therapy in patients with PLP caused by land mine explosions.
Keywords: Phantom limb pain; land mine victims; neuropathic pain; noninvasive brain stimulation; rTMS.
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