Brain Modulation by Electric Currents in Fibromyalgia: A Structured Review on Non-invasive Approach With Transcranial Electrical Stimulation

Filippo Brighina, Massimiliano Curatolo, Giuseppe Cosentino, Marina De Tommaso, Giuseppe Battaglia, Pier Carlo Sarzi-Puttini, Giuliana Guggino, Brigida Fierro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a complex disorder where widespread musculoskeletal pain is associated with many heterogenous symptoms ranging from affective disturbances to cognitive dysfunction and central fatigue. FMS is currently underdiagnosed and often very poorly responsive to pharmacological treatment. Pathophysiology of the disease remains still obscure even if in the last years fine structural and functional cerebral abnormalities have been identified, principally by neurophysiological and imaging studies delineating disfunctions in pain perception, processing and control systems. On such basis, recently, neurostimulation of brain areas involved in mechanism of pain processing and control (primary motor cortex: M1 and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: DLPFC) has been explored by means of different approaches and particularly through non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (transcranial magnetic and electric stimulation: TMS and tES). Here we summarize studies on tES application in FMS. The great majority of reports, based on direct currents (transcranial direct currents stimulation: tDCS) and targeting M1, showed efficacy on pain measures and less on cognitive and affective symptoms, even if several aspects as maintenance of therapeutical effects and optimal stimulation parameters remain to be established. Differently, stimulation of DLPFC, explored in a few studies, was ineffective on pain and showed limited effects on cognitive and affective symptoms. Very recently new tES techniques as high-density tDCS (HD-tDCS), transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) and tDCS devices for home-based treatment have been explored in FMS with interesting even if very preliminary results opening interesting perspectives for more effective, well tolerated, cheap and easy therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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