Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Versus Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) in the Management of Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Source: Neurophysiologie Clinique. 51(4):339-347, 2021 Aug.

Authors: Forogh B; Haqiqatshenas H; Ahadi T; Ebadi S; Alishahi V; Sajadi S

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia.

METHODS: Thirty participants were randomized into two groups of 15 patients, to receive 3 sessions of either high-frequency (10Hz) rTMS or 2mA, 20min anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) over 1 week. Pain was assessed using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) before treatment, immediately after treatment, 6 and 12 weeks later. Quality of life was evaluated using the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and psychiatric symptoms were measured using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 Item (DASS-21) before treatment, and 6 and 12 weeks after treatment.

RESULTS: For the VAS there was a significant time-group interaction, showing that the behavior of two groups differed regarding changes of VAS in favor of the RTMS group (df=1.73, F=4.80, p=<0.016). Time-group interaction effect on DASS-21 and FIQR was not significant. 66.6% of patients in rTMS group and 26.6% of patients in tDCS group experienced at least a 30% reduction of VAS from baseline to last follow-up (p=0.028).

DISCUSSION: With the methodology used in this study, both rTMS and tDCS were safe modalities and three sessions of rTMS over DLPFC had greater and longer lasting analgesic effects compared to tDCS in patients with FM. However, considering the limitations of this study, further studies are needed to explore the most effective modality.