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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