Efficacy of non-invasive brain stimulation for people experiencing chronic pain

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Healthcare practitioners regularly work with people who present with chronic pain. Using pain intensity measures and questioning the quality of life, the nurse assesses the experience of pain to action specific targeted care. Amid the myriad of treatment choices available, practitioners need accurate and up-to-date research on the efficacy of these treatments to help them select the most suitable approach.
Treatment techniques include various devices used to stimulate the brain electrically to address and manage the experience of chronic pain. For this updated Systematic Review that only considered non-invasive stimulation therapies the primary outcome measure was the changes recorded in self-reported pain using validated measures of pain intensity such as visual analog scales, verbal rating scales or numerical rating scales.
Four main non-invasive brain stimulation treatment types were the subject of the Systematic Review, and these treatment types included repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and reduced impedance non-invasive cortical electrostimulation (RINCE). The studies identified in the review demonstrated notable variation in the stimulation parameters applied and in the methodological quality of evidence from the studies.
Importantly for nursing, this Systematic Review also extracted, when available, measures that may support healthcare professionals’ practice such as self-reported disability data, quality-of-life measures and the incidence/nature of adverse events. Unfortunately, no studies included in the Systematic Review explored and assessed these measures. Had these measures been assessed, this would allow practitioners to examine pain relief measures and lifestyle choices in collaboration with the patient who is experiencing chronic pain.
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