Author: Andreas Straube1, Ozan Eren2
1 Department of Neurology, University Hospital LMU, Munich, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, 81377 Munich, Germany. Electronic address: email@example.com.
2 Department of Neurology, University Hospital LMU, Munich, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, 81377 Munich, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Auton Neurosci
Date published: 2021 Aug 31
Other: Volume ID: 236 , Pages: 102875 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2021.102875. , Word Count: 278
First clinical observations of the therapeutic effect of vagus nerve stimulation were of patients who were treated for refractory epilepsy with a fully implanted vagus nerve stimulator, who also reported an improvement of their migraine and cluster headache. With the development of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation, first clinical studies concerning a possible therapeutic effect in migraine and cluster headache were performed. In a controlled study, transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation (tcVNS) showed a significant but limited effect in acute treatment of a migraine attack. There was no significant prophylactic effect in episodic migraine. Concerning cluster headache, there was a clear beneficial effect in the prophylaxis of chronic cluster headache and in the attack treatment in episodic cluster headache. There are fewer studies in the literature on the effect of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), with a partial overlap with studies on electrical ear acupuncture. In a small controlled clinical trial, there was a significant effect of taVNS in the prevention of chronic migraine. In less defined clinical studies, there were some positive signs that the method may be beneficial in chronic back pain and in unspecific gastro-intestinal pain in adolescents. Based on the available evidence, it is probable that vagus nerve stimulation can have a clinically meaningful influence on pain syndromes, but there are still several questions (e.g. frequency of the stimulation; duration of the stimulation; differential effects of auricular vagus stimulation and cervical vagus stimulation) to answer before vagus stimulation can be used widely in the clinic.
Keywords: Back pain; Cluster headache; Migraine; Percutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (paVNS); Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS); Transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation (tcVNS).
PMID: 34500261 DOI: 10.1016/j.autneu.2021.102875