Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 12-17

First online:

Noninvasive transcranial brain stimulation and pain

  • Allyson C. RosenAffiliated withABPP-CN Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System Email author 
  • , Mukund Ramkumar
  • , Tam Nguyen
  • , Fumiko Hoeft

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are two noninvasive brain stimulation techniques that can modulate activity in specific regions of the cortex. At this point, their use in brain stimulation is primarily investigational; however, there is clear evidence that these tools can reduce pain and modify neurophysiologic correlates of the pain experience. TMS has also been used to predict response to surgically implanted stimulation for the treatment of chronic pain. Furthermore, TMS and tDCS can be applied with other techniques, such as event-related potentials and pharmacologic manipulation, to illuminate the underlying physiologic mechanisms of normal and pathological pain. This review presents a description and overview of the uses of two major brain stimulation techniques and a listing of useful references for further study.