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Lack of analgesic effects of transcranial pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation in neuropathic pain patients: A randomized double-blind crossover trial


Background: Neuromodulation is nowadays investigated as a promising method for pain relief. Research indicates that a single 30-minute stimulation with transcranial pulsed electromagnetic fields (tPEMF) can induce analgesic effects. However, it is unknown whether tPEMF can induce analgesia in neuropathic pain patients.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of tPEMF on spontaneous pain and heat pain in neuropathic pain patients.

Methods: This study had a randomized double-blind crossover design. Twenty neuropathic pain patients received 30-minutes of tPEMF and 30-minutes sham stimulation. Primary outcomes were pain intensity, pain aversion and heat pain. Secondary outcomes included affect, cognition, and motor function, to investigate safety, tolerability and putative working mechanisms of tPEMF. Outcomes were assessed before, during and after stimulation.

Results: No differences in analgesic effects between tPEMF and sham stimulation were found for pain intensity, pain aversion or heat pain. No differences between tPEMF and sham stimulation were observed for affect, motor, and cognitive outcomes.

Conclusion: A single 30-minute tPEMF stimulation did not induce analgesic effects in neuropathic pain patients, compared to sham. Further study is needed to determine whether prolonged stimulation is necessary for analgesic effects.

Keywords: Complex neural pulse (™)(CNP); Extremely low frequency (ELF); Neuromodulation; Neuropathic pain; Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF); Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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