The effects of rhythmic sensory stimulation on chronic pain and associated symptoms

Abdullah Mosabbir

Rheumatic conditions are often associated with chronic pain, which should be considered as a disease entity in its own right. Pain is a subjective experience that relies heavily on the brain, and thus should be studied as a neurological disease with an emphasis on the brain1. Neural oscillations in the brain of those with chronic pain show a slowing of alpha power into theta and reduced gamma power. Rhythmic sensory stimulation (RSS) is a form of non-invasive pulsed stimulation that has shown to entrain brain rhythms and may provide an avenue to normalize altered brain rhythms. RSS can be defi ned as a form of sensory stimulation in a pulsed form, usually within a range of low frequencies (<200 Hz). Emerging studies exploring the effects of vibratory and auditory RSS have demonstrated improvements of chronic pain and associated symptoms in several rheumatic conditions. Low frequency RSS have shown improvements in conditions such as back pain2, neck pain3, fi bromyalgia4, and ehler’s danlos syndrome5. Other clinical studies have also shown improvements in symptoms often associated with chronic pain such as depression6, sleep disturbance, muscle tone, range of motion4 and movement7. This review will attempt to summarize the fi ndings of studies showing the effects of low frequency RSS on chronic pain and associated symptoms. Furthermore, a discussion on the neurological basis of chronic pain will be explored and a potential mechanism for the effects seen with RSS will be discussed.