Nerve stimulation improves fibromyalgia pain. This has been shown in a very small study done in Belgium by Dr. Mark Plazier. Dr Plazier is a neurosurgeon at the University Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium.
The study included twenty five patients and after six months the pain scores of twenty of them had decreased and their quality of life had improved quite a bit.
Nerve stimulation improves fibromyalgia pain. To achieve the nerve stimulation a device is implanted at the nape of the neck. This device sends out a small electrical current that stimulates the nerves at the nape of the neck. This particular device has been used and found to be effective in the treatment of migraines also.
Dr. Plazier is scheduled to introduce his results at a meeting of the International Neuromodulation Society, in Berlin. “Neuromodulation is a group of therapies that use medical devices to relieve symptoms or restore abilities by altering nerve system function.” This definition is taken directly from the article in the link.
Dr. Plazier took this one step further by conducting yet another test on just six patients. This test used PET scan images to show the different changes in the brain when these nerves are stimulated. These images suggest that the area of the brain that controls pain perception changes during the stimulation. This area of the brain is called the limbic system.
The patients did not indicate there was any pain involved in the treatment.
There is another small study done on how nerve stimulation improves fibromyalgia pain by doctors from the Department of Radiology, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey.
In this study there were fourteen participants and they wore the devices for only three months. The nerve stimulated is called the Vagus Nerve.
Even though smaller, this study also showed improvement in pain, physical movement, and well being for five of the participants.
Two of the patients couldn’t tolerate the procedure and dropped out of the study and one patient didn’t come back for any followup appointments.
This study showed that there are some side effects to the treatment. The side effects include coughing, hoarseness, dry mouth, tingling in the neck, problems swallowing and fatigue. The good thing is that the side effects seem to happen only during the time when the nerve is stimulated and then go away afterwards.
The article in Pain Medicine goes on to say that it is suspected that when the Vagus Nerve isn’t functioning properly it could contribute to both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Interesting isn’t it.
The Vagus Nerves (We have two; one on each side of the neck leading from the brain to the chest and abdomen) help control the muscles in our throat, digestive system, voice box, and heart rate. They send information from these areas to the brain.
These are small studies and much more research is needed but they do show promise. At a cost of approximately $10,000 the procedure is expensive but even at that they could become a major treatment for fibromyalgia in the future.
With a suspected 5,000,000 fibromyalgia sufferers in the United States alone it would be great news if this proved to be an effective and, eventually, cost affirmative way of controlling this disease without so many medications that have, at times, intolerable side effects.
Nerve stimulation improves fibromyalgia pain