Treatment of Déjerine-Roussy Syndrome Pain With Scrambler Therapy

Pain Manag. 2020 May;10(3):141-145.

doi: 10.2217/pmt-2019-0065. Epub 2020 May 12.

Treatment of Déjerine-Roussy Syndrome Pain With Scrambler Therapy

Paul J Christo  1 David O Kamson  1 Thomas J Smith  1



  • 1 Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine-Pain Medicine (PJC), Neuro-oncology (DOK), & Palliative Care Programs Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (TJS), all at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Aim: Déjerine-Roussy syndrome or central thalamic pain can be devastating, and treatment with drugs and even deep brain stimulation can be unsatisfactory. Scrambler therapy is a form of neuromodulation that uses external skin electrodes to send a ‘non-pain’ signal to the brain, with some success in difficult-to-treat syndromes such as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. We used scrambler therapy to treat a patient with 6 years of disabling Déjerine-Roussy syndrome pain. Methods: A 56-year-old man received multiple daily then monthly treatments with electrode pairs placed just above the area of distal pain. Each treatment was for 40 min. Results: His allodynia and hyperalgesia resolved within 10 min, and his pain score fell to almost zero after 30 min. Months later, he resumed normal activity and is off all his pain medications. No side effects were noted. Conclusion: Scrambler therapy appeared to reverse 6 years of disabling pain safely and economically, and continues to be effective. Further multi-institutional trials are warranted for this rare syndrome.

Keywords: Dejerine–Roussy syndrome; central pain; neuromodulation; neuropathic pain; scrambler therapy; thalamic pain.

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