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Paper   IPM / Cognitive Sciences / 17604
School of Cognitive Sciences
  Title:   Efficacy of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Pain Level and Disability of Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials with Parallel-Group Design
1.  A. Azarkolah
2.  A. Noorbala
3.  S. Ansari
4.  A. Hallajian
5.  M. Salehinejad
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Brain Sciences
  Vol.:  14
  Year:  2023
  Supported by:  IPM
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been increasingly applied in fibromyalgia (FM) to reduce pain and fatigue. While results are promising, observed effects are variable, and there are questions about optimal stimulation parameters such as target region (e.g., motor vs. prefrontal cortices). This systematic review aimed to provide the latest update on published randomized controlled trials with a parallel-group design to examine the specific effects of active tDCS in reducing pain and disability in FM patients. Using the PRISMA approach, a literature search identified 14 randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tDCS on pain and fatigue in patients with FM. Assessment of biases shows an overall low-to-moderate risk of bias. tDCS was found effective in all included studies conducted in patients with FM, except one study, in which the improving effects of tDCS were due to placebo. We recommended tDCS over the motor and prefrontal cortices as "effective" and "probably effective" respectively, and also safe for reducing pain perception and fatigue in patients with FM, according to evidence-based guidelines. Stimulation polarity was anodal in all studies, and one single-session study also examined cathodal polarity. The stimulation intensity ranged from 1-mA (7.14% of studies) to 1.5-mA (7.14% of studies) and 2-mA (85.7% of studies). In all of the included studies, a significant improvement in at least one outcome variable (pain or fatigue reduction) was observed. Moreover, 92.8% (13 of 14) applied multi-session tDCS protocols in FM treatment and reported significant improvement in their outcome variables. While tDCS is therapeutically effective for FM, titration studies that systematically evaluate different stimulation intensities, durations, and electrode placement are needed.

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