Neuromodulation: Chronic Pain Treatment in the 21st Century.
The nervous system is a circuit that encompasses the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Interruption along the course of this loop from the periphery to the brain and back can lead to pain.
It is a complex system, in fact if you could lay nerve fibers traversing the human body end-to-end, you would literally have miles of fibers. This complexity makes treating chronic pain so difficult. Promising developments, called neuromodulation have come to the forefront in the field of chronic pain management.
Neuromodulation means taking control of lost nervous system function via electrical stimulation. The concept has been around for year. What is new and exciting is the discovery of techniques that may turn off over-active nerves, awaken sluggish nerves and most importantly (over time) to remodel and even repair the nervous system over time. Newer techniques of neuromodulation are proving successful with even the most difficult cases that have resisted other therapies.
Currently two non-surgical neuromodulation techniques, one directly stimulating the brain the other non-invasively stimulating the spinal cord are showing great promise for the relief of chronic pain.
The techniques are called transcranial direct current stimulation or tDC for the former and transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation or ts-DC for the latter. Current research suggests that tDC and ts-DC treatment can enhance the function in those areas of the nervous system that have decreased activity or calm areas that are overactive.
What this means for chronic pain patients is a way to reduce pain non-invasively, without surgery or injections.
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