VIDEO: VNS to Treat Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can result from an injury that causes greater activity in the brain’s somatosensory cortex. Scientists believe the hyperactive region can spread to surrounding brain regions over time, causing people to feel chronic pain, even after the injury has healed.
Scientists now are working on pairing vagus nerve stimulation with touch to release chemicals in the brain that strengthen active connections. Combining touch with the nerve stimulation in the neck could activate regions above and below the hyperactive region. By pairing nerve stimulation with stimuli, clinicians could drive specific forms of plasticity and reverse negative overreactions.