Self-administered transcranial direct current stimulation treatment of knee osteoarthritis alters pain-related fNIRS connectivity networks
Mathis, Kenneth B.
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Montero-Hernandez S, Pollonini L, Park L, Martorella G, Miao H, Mathis KB, Ahn H. Self-administered transcranial direct current stimulation treatment of knee osteoarthritis alters pain-related fNIRS connectivity networks. Neurophotonics. 2023 Jan;10(1):015011. doi: 10.1117/1.NPh.10.1.015011. Epub 2023 Mar 31. PMID: 37006323; PMCID: PMC10063907.
Significance: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that causes chronic pain in the elderly population. Currently, OA is mainly treated pharmacologically with analgesics, although research has shown that neuromodulation via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may be beneficial in reducing pain in clinical settings. However, no studies have reported the effects of home-based self-administered tDCS on functional brain networks in older adults with knee OA. Aim: We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate the functional connectivity effects of tDCS on underlying pain processing mechanisms at the central nervous level in older adults with knee OA. Approach: Pain-related brain connectivity networks were extracted using fNIRS at baseline and for three consecutive weeks of treatment from 120 subjects randomly assigned to two groups undergoing active tDCS and sham tDCS. Results: Our results showed that the tDCS intervention significantly modulated pain-related connectivity correlation only in the group receiving active treatment. We also found that only the active treatment group showed a significantly reduced number and strength of functional connections evoked during nociception in the prefrontal cortex, primary motor (M1), and primary somatosensory (S1) cortices. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which the effect of tDCS on pain-related connectivity networks is investigated using fNIRS. Conclusions: fNIRS-based functional connectivity can be effectively used to investigate neural circuits of pain at the cortical level in association with nonpharmacological, self-administered tDCS treatment.