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01.12.2015 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Analgesic efficacy of cerebral and peripheral electrical stimulation in chronic nonspecific low back pain: a randomized, double-blind, factorial clinical trial

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Fuad Ahmad Hazime, Diego Galace de Freitas, Renan Lima Monteiro, Rafaela Lasso Maretto, Nilza Aparecida de Almeida Carvalho, Renata Hydee Hasue, Silvia Maria Amado João
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest related to this manuscript.

Authors’ contributions

FAH, DGF, RLM, RLM, NAAC, RHH, SMAJ were responsible for the study design. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Chronic non-specific low back pain is a major socioeconomic public health issue worldwide and, despite the volume of research in the area, it is still a difficult-to-treat condition. The conservative analgesic therapy usually comprises a variety of pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The neuromatrix pain model and the new findings on the process of chronicity of pain point to a higher effectiveness of treatments that address central rather than peripheral structures. The transcranial direct current stimulation is a noninvasive technique of neuromodulation that has made recent advances in the treatment of chronic pain. The simultaneous combination of these two electrostimulation techniques (cerebral and peripheral) can provide an analgesic effect superior to isolated interventions. However, all the evidence on the analgesic efficacy of these techniques, alone or combined, is still fragmented. This is a protocol for a randomized clinical trial to investigate whether cerebral electrical stimulation combined with peripheral electrical stimulation is more effective in relieving pain than the isolated application of electrical stimulations in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain.


Ninety-two patients will be randomized into four groups to receive transcranial direct current stimulation (real/sham) + transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (real/sham) for 12 sessions over a period of four weeks. The primary clinical outcome (pain intensity) and the secondary ones (sensory and affective aspects of pain, physical functioning and global perceived effect) will be recorded before treatment, after four weeks, in Month 3 and in Month 6 after randomization. Confounding factors such as anxiety and depression, the patient’s satisfaction with treatment and adverse effects will also be listed. Data will be collected by an examiner unaware of (blind to) the treatment allocation.


The results of this study may assist in clinical decision-making about the combined use of cerebral and peripheral electrical stimulation for pain relief in patients with chronic low back pain.

Trial registration

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