How is the treatment administered?
The treatment consists of 30-minute stimulation sessions. During each session the patient remains comfortably seated in front of a screen or mirror the entire time. Some electrodes (7 x 5 cm in size) are applied to the scalp and secured by a helmet, while the patient sees their reflection on a screen performing various physical activities. The procedure is painless. Patients general report a slight tickling sensation, heat or mild itching under the electrodes during the stimulation session. This sensation disappears when the session is over.
The analgesic effects of tDCS are cumulative, that is, repeating various tDCS sessions on consecutive days has a greater effect on pain than one single application.
The modulatory effect of tDCS may last a long time. However, it is not permanent, and the duration of pain relief varies greatly from one patient to another. To maintain long-term chronic pain treatment benefits the tDCS sessions must be repeated. Nevertheless, some patients will benefit from the technique for a long period of time (one or two months), since after the sessions the intensity of the pain may not reach pre-treatment levels. In other patients, going to sessions once a week or once a month will help maintain the benefits of the technique.
Applying the tDCS stimulation treatment several times does not cause "desensitisation" (an effect observed in certain types of pain relief medication such as, for example, opioids, in which the analgesic effect may diminish after repeated use), which suggests the potential for long-term repeated use of tDCS.