Stanford Looking At TMS to Treat CRPS

Stanford Looking At TMS to Treat CRPS

By Ed Coghlan.

Stanford University’s Systems Neuroscience and Pain Laboratory is conducting a study to test if Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can reduce pain related to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

“TMS is FDA approved and has been used since the 1990s to treat depression,” said Kristen Scherrer, Ph.D. who is leading the study. “There is evidence that TMS can effectively treat certain types of pain and we want to find out if it is a good treatment option for patients with CRPS.”

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. A magnetic coil is placed on a patient’s head to generate an electric current which causes temporary changes in brain activity.

The study participants must be between 18 and 70 years old with a formal diagnosis of CRPS 1 or CRPS 2 of the upper and/or lower extremity. If a patient’s CRPS is in both the upper and lower extremities, they will treat the most affected.

The study will be randomized - with half the participants receiving the treatment and half not (although those who are selected for the placebo will have a chance to receive the treatment after the original study is concluded.)

Research subjects will be asked to visit the Stanford Pain Management Clinic for 4 in-person visits, including one to measure your baseline and review all questions about the study.

Assuming one qualifies for the study, the second and third visits will be on consecutive days and will include the treatments (or placebo) each day.

The last visit will occur one week after the TMS Treatment.

After the final visit, Stanford will send the patient weekly online questionnaires to fill out, which will take 5-10 minutes to complete. Weekly surveys will continue until baseline ratings are reached for two consecutive weeks or at the end of 8 weeks.

The entire process should take about 13 weeks.

“Side effects include headache, local pain at the site of stimulation, and paresthesia which is a feeling of tingling or numbness,” said Dr. Scherrer.

The National Institutes of Health define CRPS as a chronic (lasting greater than six months) pain condition that most often affects one limb (arm, leg, hand, or foot), usually after an injury. CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems.

“I’m very excited at the volume of CRPS-related research being conducted at Stanford especially the non-invasive research in TMS, virtual reality for pain, and the ongoing clinical trial in low-dose naltrexone,” said Jim Broatch, executive director of RSDSA which promotes education and research about CRPS. “Investment in pain research is so needed and under-funded especially in CRPS as there are very evidenced-based treatments for this incredibly painful, debilitating syndrome. Bravo for Stanford.

For more information about the study and to see if you qualify, click here.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Heidi schlossberg

Unfortunately my daughter and I have a long history with Stanford and it’s not good. They are all about research and trials they conduct in clinics with no real patient consent. Whether it’s refusing to diagnose and properly treat chronic pain and instead cause a CPP to drastically decline while in their inpatient hospital where you are treated inhumanely and with total lack of regard, or their improperly implemented version of “acupuncture” on my daghter who we had independently gotten into remission from her psoriatic arthritis and which , after doing experimental electrical stimulation on her without our understanding or consent , threw her out of remission into agony, later apologizing to us without stopping the “ study” we weren’t aware they were doing to children in the rheumatology clinic. If one goes to yelp reviews for the specific in patient Stanford hospital, one gets a strong idea of their “care”. As far as I’m concerned, they are nothing but a research facility disguised as a “ great” hospital. Need heart surgery in one of their specialty clinics? Maybe that dr is the right choice. But for any auto immune or pain diseases: RUN as fast as you can . IMHO these larger hospitals are no better than a modern version of Dr me feels experimentation and the only weapon we all have that can do it is to refuse to be complicit and go to any of these monsters in order to starve the beast. I was recently abandoned for any of my minimal pain treatment by my primary who had no problem throwing me off my Tylenol # 3 I require for severe TMD / chronic body and jaw muscle pain. No warning and no discussion. Just abuse. I’ve called over 40 “ pain clinics” and all except one or 2 possibly, REFUSE to treat pain with even low level opiate pain medication. I refuse to give them my money and sanity by wasting a trip to them. I pray the one PM clinic will help me. One is 1.2 hours away each way. And the other insists on charging 250 first visit and 125 every month since they “ require” you come in monthly and don’t participate with insurance. The only thing left that I have is my dignity which I try and hang on to. I tried another PCP in the area to switch to and get comment upon seeing the few prescriptions ( only one is Tylenol 3 and others are non opiate medication ) was “ we don’t refill or prescribe pain medication. There’s no proof pain medication works “ and then proceeded to give me 2 PM cards: 1 abuses and refuses care. The other is CLOSED

Mavis Johnson

TMS has been shown to be not very effective for depression, the “Research” misinterpreted, and overstated the effectiveness. Any perceived benefit could be attributed to interaction with the researchers, research bias and the selection process. TMS is just rebranded Electro Shock Therapy. Just because Stanford is “Studying” it, does not mean it is effective for pain or anything else. Stanford has some really wealthy funders who believe in magic bullets, and Stanford is happy to undermine their scientific credibility for a price. This is one more marketing piece, Universities rely on this kind of publicity to raise the profiles of the researchers, and get more funding. Stanford Researcher were instrumental in labeling Pain Patients as Mentally Ill Drug Addicts, they got a lot of media attention that way. One of their researchers really cashed in, and got to speak at the world economic forum, due to her marketing skills, and not her research. We can no longer trust Academia for factual information, they rely on industry funding. They count on desperate, vulnerable Pain Patients who might try anything.

An odd choice of verbiage about upper-and-lower-extremity CRPS pain. “They will treat the most-affected” of the 2 sources of pain?


The magnetic field that’s being applied to the brain, affects how the entire brain observes pain…and everything else from sight to sound to touch!

The Stanford researchers aren’t even sure the technique will work at all.

They certainly cannot target it at pains coming from one body part or another one.

The test is designed to do one thing well: Determine if people feel a little better because someone is asking them to talk about their pain (which is called the Placebo Effect), or if people get real benefit when the electricity to the magnetic coil is turned on, but no real benefit when the electricity to the coil is left off. If they prove real benefit, further research can narrow down how to improve the technique.


Magnets?…lol!! Yeah….. I don’t think so!

jill slovacek

I know this is considered “progress…. but for myself, along with my Medtronic pain pump as my major source of pain relief.. medication such as Dilaudid work for me. Why should I not have what works for me due to others problems? Maybe I am bull headed.. but it works for me,except that now Dr.s are afraid to prescribe an appropriate dose for me.


Please everyone, there will be treatments coming out of the woodwork for those of us with chronic pain. Research everything before ever trying any of these so called treatments. Below is what is found online as things to think about BEFORE considering this treatment.
TMS Therapy is contraindicated (should not be used) in patients who have conductive, ferromagnetic, or other magnetic sensitive metals implanted in their head or are non-removable and within 30 cm of the treatment coil. Examples include cochlear implants, implanted electrodes/stimulators, aneurysm clips or coils, stents, and bullet fragments. Failure to follow this restriction could result in serious injury or death.

The TMS system should be used with caution in the following situations. All patients must be screened for these conditions and appropriate cautionary measures should be taken.

Implants controlled by physiological signals
Implants not controlled by physiological signals within 30 cm of the coil
Wearable or removable devices or objects that may be affected by the magnetic field
Commonly reported side effects include:

Scalp discomfort
Neck Pain
Combination of TMS with bupropion (Wellbutrin) has been reported to cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Other medications may increase the risk of seizure including, antipsychotic medications and tricyclic antidepressants. Please notify your physician if you are taking one of these medications, as your dosage may need to be adjusted prior to TMS treatment.

There has been documentation of people dying from this treatment or their conditions being worse then when they started. I just want people to be aware so they dont lose a loved one to another FDA approved treatment. Maybe the FDA should start trying out these things on their own families first before they pass them along to ours.