Nerve treatment might be effective when drugs don't work in pain management

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Nerve treatment might be effective when drugs don't work in pain management

The healing powers of the vagus nerve is of great interest for the medical investigators, which modulates the function of many of the body’s organs.With every breath, specifically the slow, deep breathing used in meditation, invigoartes the vagus nerve to calm the body. As per scientists,  stimulating the nerve with small electrical impulses can have far reaching potential to treat medical conditions like migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and strokes. The vagus nerve, meaning 'wandering' in Latin is the longest cranial nerve in the body, comprising a network of some 100,000 nerve fibers that run from the brain stem to the organs in the abdomen and chest, comprising the heart, lung and liver. It's role is to manage involuntary actions, like breathing and digesting food. The vagus nerve is as thick as a thin pencil as its thickest.

Targeting  nerves for treatment is a new approach researchers are pursuing largely because drugs haven’t proved effective at treating neurological disorders and have significant side effects. By contrast, nerve stimulation can be targeted at specific nerves and at specific times, so side effects are much reduced.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), has long been approved for use in the U.S. to treat severe and difficult epilepsy cases and treatment-resistant depression. Surgery is needed to implant a pacemaker-like device in the body. Another device that obstruct signals to the vagus nerve was approved last year to treat obesity. In Europe, a hand-held VNS device, which avoids the need for surgery, is used to ease migraines and the Food and Drug Administration is currently analysing an application for the product in the U.S.

A small study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that stimulating the vagus nerve with an implanted device that delivered electrical impulses to the neck can lessen inflammation and symptoms in rheumatoid-arthritis patients.

As per Stephen Silberstein, a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, the potential issues could arise if too much electrical power is used during VNS, which can slow a person’s heart rate too much. “If you can selectively stimulate the sensory parts of the vagus nerve that only go into the brain you then have something that is safe which doesn’t affect the heart rate at all,” he added.

In a small, 20-person study published earlier this year in the journal Stroke, Dr. Kilgard and colleagues depicted that stroke patients who got six weeks of VNS plus standard rehabilitation therapy had regained three times as much movement as those who got rehabilitation alone.


The wall street journal

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Nerve treatment when drugs fail

The wall street journal
Therapeutic, Migraines, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Strokes, Head, Joints, Brain
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