Current impulses to relieve chronic pain
The vagus nerve plays a special role in the control of chronic pain. Some strands of this nerve extend from the ears to the inner Organs. The nerve is important for the sensation of pain. An Austrian research team has now developed a gentle method to stimulate the nerve and gently and to relieve this chronic pain.
Researchers from the Technical University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna presented a jointly developed process to reduce chronic pain. The vagus nerve is stimulated in the ear effectively but gently by electrical impulses. The novel method was recently presented in the prestigious scientific journal “frontiers in Neuroanatomy”.
Stimulation with needle electrodes
The vagus nerve is of great importance for various functions of the body, among other things, for the sensation of pain. For years, explores how you can use the vagus nerve to relieve pain. A research team from Austria, the breakthrough now. The researchers found how the vagus nerve is in the ear in Relation to various blood vessels. This could be developed on the Computer a 3D model which can calculate the optimal Stimulation with needle electrodes. In this way, the vagus nerve can be stimulated in a particularly effective and at the same time gentle.
How does the treatment work?
For the treatment small electrodes are engraved directly into the ear. A small device, which can be worn around the neck, then sends certain current pulses. It must be ensured that the electrodes are carefully attached to the right place. “You should not take any blood vessels, and the electrode at exactly the right distance to the nerve in place”, explains research Director Eugenijus Kaniusas.
Risks of electro stimulation
“Is the electrode too far, not stimulated, the nerve is sufficient – it is too close, then the Signal is too strong,” explains the expert. In case of incorrect Stimulation of the nerve can be blocked, with the time, “tire” and eventually signals to your brain forward.
Computer model replaces experience
Experience of the attending Physicians given so far, the success of such treatments. The Vienna study was first developed in a model, such as nerve fibers and blood vessels in the ear spatially. These cut samples were images of tissues in high-resolution photographed and assembled into a Computer a three-dimensional model.
According to Professor Wolfgang J. Weninger from the MedUni Vienna, you can not make the blood vessels in the ear to the light, although visible, the “nervous, however, you see”. The model reveals how the nerves in relation to blood vessels and how big is the average of the distance between blood vessels and nerves at defined positions. This was a great help in the correct placement of the electrodes.
The Computer calculates Timing and strength of pulses
The computer model can also calculate which electrical signals are best suited for Stimulation. Not only the strength but also the timing of the signals play a role. “In the computer simulation showed, for the first time that a three-phase signal pattern from the point of view of Biophysics should be helpful, similarly as known from the current technology – just with much less strength of current,” explains Kaniusas.
“Three different electrodes to supply each pumping current pulse, but not synchronously, but in a very specific way time moved”, adds the head of research.
Already in people with chronic pain tested
The research team has tested the new procedure on people with chronic pain. The three-phase stimulation pattern proved to be particularly effective. “The vagus nerve Stimulation is a promising technique, the effect of which is objectified with our new findings, and now even further improved,” says Kaniusas. Especially in people with chronic pain that are “untreatable” and in whom medication is of no Use to you anymore, is the vagus nerve Stimulation often a lifesaving opportunity. (vb)