Electrical Stimulation May Help Reduce Nerve Pain for People with Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage anywhere along the spinal cord, usually from an accident or other trauma. Nearly half of people with SCI experience recurring nerve pain in areas below their injury. This pain may not go away, even with medications. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a procedure that may reduce nerve pain in people with SCI by “resetting” brain areas that react to pain. In tDCS, a weak electrical current is applied to the scalp using two electrodes on opposite sides of the head. In past studies, tDCS was found to have mixed results in people with SCI, with some studies showing a benefit and others showing no effect. In a recent NIDILRR-funded study, researchers looked at the impact of tDCS treatment on nerve pain in people with SCI over time. The researchers wanted to find out how a week of treatment would affect pain levels over a 3-month period, compared with a placebo treatment. They also wanted to find out if adding a second set of treatment sessions would increase the benefits.

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