Differential effects of bifrontal and occipital nerve stimulation on pain and fatigue using transcranial direct current stimulation in fibromyalgia patients

Wing Ting To, Evan James, Jan Ost, John Hart, Dirk De Ridder, Sven Vanneste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain frequently accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue. Moderate improvement from pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments have proposed non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the occipital nerve (more specifically the C2 area) or to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as potential treatments. We aimed to explore the effectiveness of repeated sessions of tDCS (eight sessions) targeting the C2 area and DLPFC in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, more specifically pain and fatigue. Forty-two fibromyalgia patients received either C2 tDCS, DLPFC tDCS or sham procedure (15 C2 tDCS–11 DLPFC tDCS–16 sham). All groups were treated with eight sessions (two times a week for 4 weeks). Our results show that repeated sessions of C2 tDCS significantly improved pain, but not fatigue, in fibromyalgia patients, whereas repeated sessions of DLPFC tDCS significantly improved pain as well as fatigue. This study shows that eight sessions of tDCS targeting the DLPFC have a more general relief in fibromyalgia patients than when targeting the C2 area, suggesting that stimulating different targets with eight sessions of tDCS can lead to benefits on different symptom dimensions of fibromyalgia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017



  • DLFPC stimulation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Non-invasive
  • Occipital nerve stimulation
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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