Comparing the Impact of Multi-Session Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal and Primary Motor Cortex Neuronavigated Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (nrTMS) on Chronic Pain Patients

Brain Sci. 2021 Jul 22;11(8):961. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11080961.


Repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS) has been shown to produce an analgesic effect and therefore has a potential for treating chronic refractory pain. However, previous studies used various stimulation parameters (including cortical targets), and the best stimulation protocol is not yet identified. The present study investigated the effects of multi-session 20 Hz (2000 pulses) and 5 Hz (1800 pulses) rTMS stimulation of left motor cortex (M1-group) and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC-group), respectively. The M1-group (n = 9) and DLPFC-group (n = 7) completed 13 sessions of neuronavigated stimulation, while a Sham-group (n = 8) completed seven sessions of placebo stimulation. The outcome was measured using the German Pain Questionnaire (GPQ), Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), and SF-12 questionnaire. Pain perception significantly decreased in the DLPFC-group (38.17%) compared to the M1-group (56.11%) (p ≤ 0.001) on the later sessions. Health-related quality of life also improved in the DLPFC-group (40.47) compared to the Sham-group (35.06) (p = 0.016), and mental composite summary (p = 0.001) in the DLPFC-group (49.12) compared to M1-group (39.46). Stimulation of the left DLPFC resulted in pain relief, while M1 stimulation was not effective. Nonetheless, further studies are needed to identify optimal cortical target sites and stimulation parameters.

Keywords: chronic pain; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; low back pain; neuromodulation; primary motor cortex; repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.